Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

21 Shevat 5761 - Febuary 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Voting Results: Chareidim Choose Sharon All the Way
by Betzalel Kahn

Election results in chareidi neighborhoods and regions throughout the country indicate that more than 80 percent of eligible chareidi voters came to the polls to vote for the candidate chosen by gedolei Yisroel. With the counting of 99.9 percent of the actual votes, Ariel Sharon won 62.3 percent of the vote, compared with 37.7 percent for Ehud Barak, a lead of 24.6 percent.

Every chareidi precinct in the country gave 100 percent of their vote to Ariel Sharon. This was true in towns like Kiryat Sefer, Beitar, Emmanuel and Elad. It was also true in the smaller towns -- Tifrach, Kommemiyut and Yesodot. In Moshav Beit Chilkiya, Ehud Barak received one vote, and in Moshav Bnei Ram, he got three.

In 1999, Benjamin Netanyahu won these precincts with 97-99 percent of the vote, but did not as consistently hit the 100 percent mark.

Countrywide voter turnout was 62 percent, down from 78.7 percent in the 1999 elections. The figure was the lowest in the history of the State, although this was also the first time that elections were held for prime minister only.

The Central Election Committee announced that in the final official tally, Sharon won 1,698,077 votes (62.3 percent of the actual vote), compared to 1,023,944 votes (37.7 percent of the vote) for Barak. In 1999, Barak received 1.79 million votes, meaning that his latest results were a drop of 40 percent from just over a year and a half earlier.

The number of blank ballots cast was surprisingly lower than expected. Only 2.9% (83,917) of the ballots were disqualified in the election, most of them because they were blank, in contrast to 5.32% (179,458) disqualified for the same reason in 1999.

Sharon won a landslide victory in Jerusalem: 77.8 percent, with Barak only garnering 22.1 percent. In 1999, Binyamin Netanyahu won 64.5 percent of the vote in the capital.

Barak barely carried Tel Aviv-Jaffa by 51.9 percent, and Haifa by only 225 votes. In both cities, where there are large Arab populations, voter turnout was a low 59 percent.

Almost all other towns and settlements gave a large majority to Sharon. Sharon won 62.8 percent in Rechovot, 67 percent in Petach Tikva, and 70 percent in Beersheva.

Kibbutzim gave 75 percent of their vote to Barak, while Sharon won the moshavim by a 15 percent margin.

The embattled settlements of Psagot in Samaria and Kfar Darom in Gush Katif gave Sharon 100 percent of their votes.

In the Jordan Valley, there was more support for Barak. The settlement of Naomi, near Jericho, gave 56 percent to Sharon and 43.9 percent to Barak. Mitzpeh Shalom, a kibbutz in the northern Dead Sea region, split its vote 67 percent-32 percent in Sharon's favor.

Barak won his hometown of Kochav Yair, but support for him there had dropped substantially from 71 percent to 54.8 percent.

The Beduin town Rahat voted 82.5 percent for Barak and 17.4 percent for Sharon.

Barak also did well in affluent communities such as Maccabim- Reut, where he won 67 percent, and in Savyon, where he took 64 percent.

Warnings by Central Elections Committee Chairman Justice Mishael Cheshin that casting blank ballots would be a waste of time because they are invalid apparently had an impact. There were 78,385 invalid votes, compared with 179,458 in the 1999 prime- ministerial election.

Less than 25 percent of Arab voters came to the polls, compared with more than 70 percent in 1999.

In Arab areas with a high voting rate, turnout was 28 percent, down from 84 percent in 1999. In Arab areas with a lower voting rate, the drop was from 52 percent to 18 percent.

A check in a number of polls in Jerusalem chareidi neighborhoods showed that the voting rate exceeded 80 percent. In one of Ramot's polling places, Barak didn't get even one vote. Leftist party poll workers were stunned by the massive chareidi response to fulfill the mitzvah of, "you shall do all that they have instructed you" by voting for the Rightist candidate.

On Wednesday night, voting data from most of the polls in the chareidi neighborhoods arrived at Degel HaTorah headquarters, where the data was analyzed. Initial analysis indicated a remarkably high voting rate of more than 80 percent. The overall voting rate in Jerusalem was 65.5 percent: 77.8 percent for Sharon and 22.1 percent for Barak.

In Bnei Brak, rates were similar, as indicated by initial examination of a number of polls. The city's overall voter turnout rate was 74 percent: 93.5 percent for Sharon and 6.4 percent for Barak. These results, it should be noted, include the Pardes Katz neighborhood and mixed neighborhoods in which non-chareidi voters live. The true chareidi Bnei Brak figures await more detailed results.

In Beitar Illit, 79.7 percent of eligible voters came to the polls. 99.8 percent voted for Sharon, 0.1 percent for Ehud Barak. The remaining votes were invalid.

In Yesodot, 96.1 percent of eligible voters exercised their democratic rights: 100 percent voted for Sharon.

In Modi'in Illit (Kiryat Sefer-Brachfeld), 87.9 percent of eligible voters voted: 99.8 percent for Ariel Sharon and 0.1 percent for Barak. 76.9 percent of the eligible voters in Mattisyahu all voted for Ariel Sharon.

In Elad, 86.3 percent of all eligible voters voted, 99.5 percent for Sharon and 0.4 percent for Barak. In Tel Tziyon (the Kochav Yaakov poll station), 84.1 percent of all eligible voters voted: 99.8 for Sharon; 0.1 percent for Barak.

From a number of mixed settlements: Ariel: 68.2 percent of eligible voters went to the polls: 88.1 percent voted for Ariel Sharon; 11.8 percent for Barak. Rechasim, 80.3 percent of all eligible voters voted: 92.2 percent for Sharon; 7 percent for Barak.

The offices of Degel HaTorah recruited and organized forces to insure the day's success. Throughout election day, reports were circulated about the short lines in chareidi neighborhood polls in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, raising the fear that voters were not coming out to vote. However, a survey conducted on Wednesday with members of the poll committees indicates that unlike in past years, when elections were held for the Knesset as well as for prime minister, voting didn't take as long. This had led to the assumption that the voting rate among chareidim was low.

There were also delays in bringing the voters to the polls. The special headquarters of UTJ used Likud transportation to bring elderly and sick voters to the polls, as well as those from distant neighborhoods. During election day, there were a number of snags due to the great pressure in the city's neighborhoods.

In order to arouse the voters in the chareidi neighborhoods to go vote, and not to wait until the last minute, megaphones were attached to cars driving through chareidi neighborhoods, calling out to vote, and in that manner to fulfill the mitzvah of "ve'osiso kichol asher yorucho."

The Legal Road Ahead

The law now gives Ariel Sharon 45 days from the day the results are final to form a government and present it to the Knesset for approval. Election results must be certified by the Central Elections Committee by February 14.

However, Sharon will face another deadline on the same date-- March 31--that will force him to establish a government more quickly. If the Knesset does not approve a 2001 state budget by that date it automatically dissolves and general elections are held for both the Knesset and prime minister within 90 days.

Until Sharon forms a government, Prime Minister Ehud Barak remains in office with full powers.

Another election for prime minister will be held within 60 days if Sharon ceases to be prime minister for any reason, including resignation, ill health which prevents him from functioning, or death.

Eighty MKs can vote Sharon out of office, after which a prime ministerial election would be held.

If Sharon sees that he has lost his majority in the Knesset, he can ask the president for permission to dissolve the Knesset. In that event, general elections would be held within 90 days.

Sharon's government can also fall in a no-confidence motion, which would also result in general elections.


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