HOME -> PARLINE -> ISRAEL (Knesset)
Print this pagePrint this page
PARLINE database new searchNew search
Knesset (Parliament)

Compare data for parliamentary chambers in the Last elections module

A historical Archive of past election results for this chamber can be found on a separate page

Parliament name (generic / translated) Knesset / Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 10 February 2009
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all the seats in Knesset following its early dissolution on 10 November 2008. General elections had previously been held in March 2006.
Early elections for the Knesset were called upon the expiry of the deadline for the formation of a new coalition government following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to resign.

In the previous elections held in March 2006 the centrist Kadima party became the largest party with 29 seats while the right-wing Likud party led by former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu took 12 seats. Kadima was created in November 2005 by former prime minister Ariel Sharon on his departure from Likud. Mr. Sharon suffered a massive stroke in December 2005 and was succeeded by Mr. Olmert at the head of Kadima. Following the 2006 elections Mr. Olmert formed a coalition government with the Labour Party Shas (an orthodox party) and Gil (Pensioners' Party) controlling 67 seats in the 120-member parliament.

In July 2008 due to a series of corruption scandals Mr. Olmert announced that he would resign as prime minister. In September Kadima elected Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as its new leader. She failed to reach a coalition agreement with other parties before the extended deadline of 26 October. On 30 October Knesset Speaker Ms. Dalia Itzik set the election date for 10 February 2009 13 months earlier than the constitutional due date. The Knesset was dissolved on 10 November in view of the elections. Mr. Olmert remains the caretaker prime minister until the new government is formed.

A total of 34 parties participated in the 2009 elections. The initial polls put Kadima in the lead with its leader Ms. Livni promising clean leadership and peace talks aimed at achieving a two-State solution with Palestine.

However the election campaign took place in the shadow of Israeli military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip that began on 27 December. The operation resulted in the death of some 1 300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Mr. Netanyahu criticized Kadima and the Labour Party for ending the military operations "too early" insisting that Israel should have destroyed Hamas. Defence Minister Ehud Barak (Labour) argued that the operation had restored Israel's military deterrent and brought it back on "the right course to achieve peace and quiet".

In January 2009 the High Court of Justice overturned the Central Elections Committee's decision to disqualify two Arab parties - Balad and the United Arab List (Ta'al) - from taking part in the 2009 elections. Mr. Avigdor Lieberman leader of the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu criticized the court's decision which in his view would allow the Arab parties to "kill Israel's character as a Jewish and democratic State". He pledged to pass a citizenship bill in the new legislature to "end the disloyalty shown by some of Israel's Arabs" and insisted that Israel should not enter into any peace process with the Palestinians.

In all 65.2 per cent of some 5.2 million eligible voters turned out at the polls.

Twelve parties surpassed the two-percent threshold to win parliamentary representation. As was the case in all previous elections no party secured an outright majority. Kadima came in first with 28 seats losing one. Likud gained 15 more seats taking 27 in all. The leaders of both parties claimed victory. Yisrael Beitenu and the Labour Party took 15 and 13 seats respectively followed by Shas with 11 seats. The remainder went to small parties.

On 24 February the newly elected Knesset held its first session. On 30 March it elected a former Speaker Mr. Reuven Rivlin (Likud) as its new Speaker.

In the meantime on 20 February President Shimon Peres designated Mr. Netanyahu (Likud) as Prime Minister. Mr. Netanyahu subsequently formed a coalition government comprising Likud Yisrael Beiteinu the Labour Party Shas the United Torah Judaism (Yahadut Hatorah) and the National Union. On 31 March the Knesset endorsed the new government.
Voter turnout
Round no 110 February 2009
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes

Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total Gain/Loss
Kadima 28 -1
Likud 27 15
Yisrael Beiteinu 15 4
Labour Party 13 -6
Shas 11 -1
United Torah Judaism (Yahadut Hatorah) 5 -1
Hadash 4 1
United Arab List (Ta'al) 4 0
National Union 4
Meretz 3 -2
Jewish Home (Habayit Hayehudi) 3
National Democratic Alliance (Balad) 3 0
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Note on the political parties
In the 2006 elections the United Arab List (Ta'al) and the Arab Movement for Renewal (Ra'am) ran together and won four seats.
Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) was formed in 2008 under the leadership of Mr. Daniel Hershkowitz. It comprises members of the National Religious Party which had split with the National Union.

- Parliament (25.02.2009 01.01.2010 10.01.2010 21.04.2010 10.11.2010 13.12.2011)
- http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/MFA

Copyright 1996-2013 Inter-Parliamentary Union