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18 Sivan 5759 - June 2, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Statistics and Numbers: How UTJ Got Its Fifth Seat
by Rav Nosson Zev Grossman

A thorough analysis of the 27,082 additional votes which strengthened UTJ in the recent elections points to the growth rates of various sectors: an increase of 11,000 in the chareidi community, 11,300 among the traditional community and in the peripheral areas, 1563 in Yesha and 3219 among the minorities, mainly Arabs. This will be detailed in the article.

The activists on the scene testify that without the hard work, even the votes which the slate had previously received in the small towns were liable to have been lost. The fact is that Shas ate away at the electoral powers of all of the parties which had formerly been supported there -- all but one, UTJ!

After many years in which UTJ did not manage to get more than its "eternal" four mandates -- a phenomenon which had already been called the "four barrier" -- the slate increased its electoral power by 25% to five Knesset seats. Since the results were announced, many have wondered: from where did these additional votes spring?

As expected, many diverse questions are asked and sundry and peculiar "statistics" which weren't examined in a thorough manner, are brandished. Every activist, and every observer, not to mention the more senior personnel, cites numbers off the bat. However a thorough review of the voting and an analysis of its implications will enable us to summarize the results and to draw conclusions for the future.

In the last elections just three years ago in 1996, UTJ received 98,657 votes and this time it received 125,741 -- indicating that currently there are 27,084 new constituents. In order to ascertain where these votes came from and how they were secured, we must, first of all, describe the various regional voting segments and patterns.

As is known, UTJ derives its electoral power from two main population segments. The "hard kernel," from which it is clear that the majority of the votes come, is of course the chareidi community, which identifies in full with the party and its ideas and is loyal to the call of gedolei Yisroel. An additional sector which supports the slate includes the residents of what we will call "the peripheries" (peripheral to the religious community) by which we mean the traditional or even non-religious neighborhoods in cities, the small towns and the development towns throughout the country.

These are in all cases communities that are not chareidi. These voters are mainly of Sephardic origin and they can be won over only by means of much activity and persuasion. That's how it was in every election campaign, and especially in the current one in which Shas got the majority of the votes of this community, eating away at the electoral support of the parties which had formerly gotten the votes of this electoral sector and had fought for its votes. This is mainly the Likud. The only exception of a party that did not lose to Shas in these areas was UTJ which preserved its electoral power and even increased its support. We shall discuss this further, later on.

How Much Better?

But first things first. At an initial glance it is already possible to discern that the rise in the slate's power is evident in both sectors at once. The question is: to what extent?

In order to examine the results, we divided the "voting regions" of UTJ into three sections. The first section includes the chareidi central communities, including entirely chareidi cities, and neighborhoods of larger cities which are defined as chareidi, and from where the slate receives the majority of its votes. A display of the statistics of this first district voting region appears in Chart A.

We have also compiled a chart of the data of scores of residential places not defined as chareidi regions -- small towns and development towns, where nearly all of the votes which UTJ received were not from chareidi voters. This chart is called Chart C.

Chart B includes the "mixed" places where chareidim live and constitute an influential factor, as well as veteran cities and settlements which have chareidi projects and communities. On the one hand, these are not chareidi electoral regions, but rather secular cities in which most of the UTJ voters are nonetheless considered hard core UTJ, but some are from traditional people whose votes are secured by means of the efforts of activists.

An analysis of the increase in the voters in those areas displayed in Chart A, on the one hand, and those in Chart C on the other, will enable us to evaluate the nature of the votes in the mixed regions (more on this later on).

The Chareidi Core

Let's examine the charts. At first, it just should be noted that the places in each chart do not appear in special order of importance. The names of the places were recorded according to the manner in which the information came in and is entirely incidental.

In Chart A we find, of course, Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak. In Jerusalem, the number of voters for UTJ rose from 32,314 to 35,134, and in Bnei Brak from 26,212 to 28,808. In both these cities, we have a growth of 9 - 9.5%.

Also included in this chart is Kiryat Yearim (Telz-Stone), Rechasim, Emanuel, chareidi settlements in the south and the new residential towns of Kiryat Sefer, Beitar and Elad. In the new regions, the number of voters for UTJ rose by scores of percentages, due to the fact that many people from Jerusalem and Bnei Brak have moved there.

A tally of the results of all of the chareidi centers together gives us a picture of the overall rise in the number of chareidi voters during the past three years. The total amount of votes which were received in places on this chart rose from 63,725 in 1996, to 72,103 in the current elections of 1999, meaning that during that period UTJ received 8378 more votes, which is a rise of 13% in its electoral power.

The Mixed Areas

Now let us look at Chart B. This chart, as we have said, includes the names of the cities and the secular residential areas which contain significant chareidi centers. In these places, UTJ enjoyed the support of both chareidi and non- chareidi voters, but no uniform voting pattern is evident. There are places where the number of voters did not increase, such as in Arad where there was a slight drop from 487 to 485. There are places where there was a rise of about 10-15% - - Haifa rose from 2813 to 3004; Chatzor from 449 to 510; Netanya from 2102 to 2472; and Zichron Yaakov from 341 to 396.

There are places with an even greater rise of 20-30%, such as Chadera from 563 to 704; Beit Shemesh from 963 to 1279; Tzfas from 626 to 804; Netivot from 448 to 604; Ofakim from 808 to 1067; and Rechovot from 1430 to 1781. In Ashdod and Netivot a 36% increase was recorded since Ashdod rose from 3535 to 4845, and Netivot from 448 to 604. Petach Tikvah and Tiveriya scored 40% increases, Petach Tikvah rising from 2357 to 3375 and Tiveriya from 345 to 493. In Yeruchom, there was an impressive 65% increase (from 229 to 380).

The total amount of votes in this chart -- which includes 15 cities and residential areas -- reflects an additional increase of 4703 votes, from 17,496 to 22,199. The rise in percentage terms indicated in this chart -- overall it is nearly 27% -- is twice as much as that in Chart A, where it was 13%. (There are cases such as Petach Tikvah where at least part of the rise is attributable to the opening of new chareidi housing, but these results hold overall.) As we have said, in the less religious communities, some of whom are listed in Chart B, much work was done to persuade the traditional community to vote for UTJ, and the results show a very significant rise (in percentage terms). This increase among the traditional community, as we shall soon see, is expressed even better in Chart C.

The Big Rise

Chart C constitutes the "story" of the recent elections for UTJ. The significant growth rate is evident in nearly all of the small towns. Aside from a few places where the number of votes decreased (such as Kiryat Gat, Acco and others) the tremendous increase between the tallies of the two recent political campaigns (1996 and 1999) speak for themselves.

In a number of non-chareidi regions the increase was less than ten percent, such as Eilat and Ramat Gan. In other places, the slate expanded by 20-30%, including Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Raanana, the Krayot (near Haifa) and Nesher. In yet other places the rate of increase was 50% and even more, such as Gan Yavneh, Or Yehuda, Azor, Gedera, Kfar Saba, Naharia, Carmiel, Afula and Migdal Haemek. And in a number of other places a nearly 100% expansion rate was scored, meaning that the slate doubled its support. Such was the case in Holon, Bat Yam, Ramleh, Lod, Rishon Letzion, Pardes Channah, Kiryat Shemoneh, Maaleh Adumim and other places.

In Kiryat Malachi and Natzrat Illit the slate expanded by 200% and a whopping 300-400% increase occurred in Dimona, Yehud, Maalot and Givat Zev.

The overall tally of the votes which UTJ received in the 60 cities and settlements included in chart C was 12,471 in 1996, and 18,792 in the recent elections. All in all there was an increment of 6231 votes, which translates to an increase of almost exactly 50%.

Let's return to Chart B, which includes what we have called the mixed residential places. Here there was an average increase of 27% which sets it in the middle of the 13% of Chart A and the 50% rise of Chart C. An analysis of the detailed statistics and the reports of the field workers and political leaders at the national and local headquarters lead to the estimate that in chart B the makeup of voters is 75% chareidi votes and 25% non-chareidi voters. Also, since in some of the cities on this chart the rise in the number of chareidi residents was not from natural increase but due to the fact that those who purchased apartments in the projects in these new places, vote there now, we have factored in an average growth of 20% (and not the 13% that we saw in the core areas) in the number of chareidi voters. These two assumptions yield the conclusion that the total increment of 4700 votes was divided in this manner: 2600 chareidi voters and 2100 non-chareidi (traditional) ones.

The Bottom Line

Now we must calculate the final sum of the growth in the number of votes.

First of all, it must be noted that according to the computerized statistics, the slate also scored an increase of 1563 votes (from 665 to 2228) in the Judea and Shomron (Yesha) settlements, and an increase of 3219 votes (from 521 to 3740) among the minorities (Arabs, Druse and Bedouins). This can probably be attributed to the work of MK Rabbi Meir Porush in his capacity as Deputy Minister of Housing.

We have then, clear statistics about the growth in the chareidi regions (Chart A), the "mixed" regions (Chart B) and parts of the periphery regions (Chart C), in Yesha and among the minorities. The only information which is missing is the growth in all of the periphery regions and the small towns. Chart C details most of the votes which were received in these regions -- but not absolutely all of them. This is impossible within this framework, because to do so it is necessary to calculate the votes in hundreds of settlements, while in each respective settlement only a handful of people voted for gimmel. Nonetheless, Chart C offers us a clear picture of the growth in percentage terms, and from this information it is possible to draw conclusions regarding the overall tally.

At this phase, the three charts provide us with an explanation of most of the increments in the numbers of voters. The statistics which appear in these charts account for the rise from 93,692 in the previous elections to 113,094 in the current ones. This growth is made up of the approximately 11,000 additional chareidi votes in the chareidi and mixed areas, and 8400 non-chareidi votes in the periphery areas which were included in Chart C and the balance in the mixed regions.

The rise in the number of voters in Yesha and the areas of the minorities accounts for another 4780 votes (from 1186 in 1996 to 5968 in the current elections).

All in all, we can now account for the rise from 94,878 (out of a total of 98,657) votes in 1996 to 119,062 in the current year, from a total of 125,741.

The remaining votes are from the other peripheral regions, and include an additional 2900 above the 3779 votes in the '96 elections. These are not detailed in Chart C due to the numerous amount of small places. This increase should be added to the findings of Chart C, bringing us to a total of 11,300 new votes.

The final findings point to following growth rates in the various sectors:

11,000 votes were added on within the chareidi community.

There was an increase of 11,300 votes in the communities in the periphery.

In Yesha, there was an increase of 1563 votes, and an increase of 3219 votes among the minorities.

Tallying these numbers, we receive the total of 27,082, the amount of additional votes which UTJ received in the current elections, as opposed to the previous ones of 1996.

The Work in the Outlying Areas

First of all, let us say a few words about the meaning of the accomplishment in the peripheral regions. As has already been noted, the significant rise was achieved this time under the most difficult of circumstances. The workers on the scene, and the results of the elections, testify to the special difficulties in trying to persuade Sephardic Jews to vote gimmel, as Shas swept up masses by means of their ethnic messages as reflected in the video and CD ROM entitled "I Accuse" (about Deri's trial and conviction) and other efforts.

In fact, even if there had been no growth, and we had received only the votes of the Sephardic community which went to UTJ in 1996, we could have regarded that as an important achievement. It is well known that during recent years Shas has been attracting Sephardic voters who in the past voted for other parties. This is particularly reflected in the recent elections, when Shas took the Sephardic votes away from the Likud and the Mafdal, and caused these parties significant electoral damage. UTJ was actually the only party which wasn't damaged and which even grew in the development towns and the periphery areas. The tremendous efforts of UTJ's workers were necessary then, not only to get more votes in the small towns but even to maintain the previous support because, with the ethnic current which was created, those votes of the past could no longer be regarded as certain.

There is no doubt that the success in difficult circumstances in the elections battle, stems to a considerable extent from the fact that one of the candidates of the slate was a member of the Sephardic Marbitzei HaTorah organization, namely Rabbi Yechiel Turgeman, who stems from one of the most famous families of Sephardic Jewry. The fact that he is the grandson of the Baba Sali had a great impact on many traditional voters, who responded to the message of uniting Sephardim and Ashkenazim on one slate. (Rabbi Turgeman currently serves on the Jerusalem City Council as a member of UTJ from Degel Hatorah.)

It was for that reason that the Central Election Headquarters of UTJ decided, at the very onset of the campaign, to appoint Rabbi Turgeman chairman of the Periphery and Development Town Headquarters. This fact was also very much in the mind of those who prepared the campaign material, since they included Rabbi Turgeman's name, as well as his picture and his grandfather's, in all of the posters, pamphlets and stickers used in the outlying areas.

Of course, without vigorous work, we wouldn't have seen results. Under the difficult conditions in this campaign it was necessary to work very hard, and the votes are the results of the sweat of many brows. It was clear that under conditions that prevailed in the past, it would have been possible to secure many thousands of additional votes, but this time the battle was over every vote -- and was not over until the very last minute. In a number of places, after the counting of the votes, the local UTJ workers discovered that many of the votes promised in advance during house calls, did not show up at the polling booths. Apparently, in the interim activists of other parties had managed to change the voters' minds. Whoever struggled for votes in the field, felt clearly that this time it was not enough to distribute material in the mailboxes or at main intersections. Only house calls and direct conversations were of avail and could achieve the hoped-for results, and not even those in all of the cases.

The Organizational Headquarters, headed by Rabbi Moshe Gafni, coordinated the entire job and this time the network of activists and volunteers was much larger and widespread that in past campaigns. The vigorous mobilization of thousands of workers by the Yachad headquarters, headed by Rabbi Turgeman, the logistic assistance of the chairman of the Nationwide Volunteer Headquarters, Rabbi Mordechai Blau, the creative campaigns of Yahadus from Door to Door and Halocho Lema'aseh resulted in an unprecedented activity.

Where are the Chareidim?

The statistics, as we have said point to an approximate rise of 11,000 chareidi voters, as compared to the last elections. On the surface this is a significant rise. But actually, this is not as big as it should be. A precise comparison of the results of the former and current results gives rise to questions which demand answers.

In the elections of 1996 there was an additional chareidi slate, led by former Shas MK Rabbi Azran and called Telem Emunah, in the elections. It received a total of approximately 13,000 votes. According to estimates, at least 6000 of these were from core chareidi voters. If we factor in the votes of these constituents who presumably returned to UTJ this time with the overall number of chareidi voters from 1996, we see that this time, there were really only 5000 additional core chareidi votes.

To this perplexing statistic, we must attach an additional question mark. In all of the core chareidi regions, Shas grew very significantly, above and beyond its natural growth rate.

In the Election Headquarters of UTJ, we heard the explanation of both these questions from a number of spokesmen, who said that the two questions answer each other: that this time many chareidi voters from Ashkenazic circles voted for Shas, for various reasons such as sympathy for Deri.

In any event, the decline in real terms in the number of chareidi voters, since the increase does not even approach the natural growth rate, underscores even more distinctly the importance of the electoral achievements in the small towns, without which there would have been no chance of receiving the fifth mandate.

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