Arabs and Jews Vote in Israeli Elections

Israel conducted municipal elections on Tuesday 30th October and for the first time Palestinians put forward a list of candidates for Jerusalem’s city council.

The Israeli government encouraged people to vote by making Election Day a public holiday. This saw an increase in voter turnout of just over 5% compared with 2013, and an overall turnout of 53% of those who were entitled to vote.

A celebration during the 2018 municipal elections2018 Municipal Elections in Israel

Data published by Israel’s Ministry of Interior indicates that voting rates in the Arab and Druze sectors were significantly higher than in the Jewish sector. As many as 84% of Arab and Druze people entitled to vote did so, whilst only 55% of Jewish people voted.

Some studies suggest that the reason for this is that Arab Israelis are interested in local politics, considering it the only framework for their political, social and economic development.

Several major cities returned their present mayors to office, even when it will be their fifth term in office. Such was the case with Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv.

Other cities elected newcomers, like Einat Kalisch-Rotem, who beat Haifa’s long-serving mayor Yona Yohav to become the first woman ever to lead a major city in Israel.

The results were not without controversy, as the re-elected mayor of Netanya, Miriam Feirberg-Ikar, is facing a recommendation that she be indicted for fraud and breach of trust. Since 2016 she has been under investigation for multiple counts of corruption.

The vote in Jerusalem was not decisive, with two candidates going forward to a second vote on 13th November. Moshe Lion received 33% of the vote, whilst Offer Berkovitch received 29%.