Two years and two months separated the past two elections, and in between, Israel fought a 50-day war in Gaza.
That could explain a slight shift in voting patterns among Israeli soldiers.
Although right-wing parties, as always, captured more votes among the soldiers than left-wing parties, a greater percentage of soldiers voted for left-wing parties in last week’s election than they did two years earlier.
The Zionist Union – formed by a merger of the Labor party and Hatnuah – captured nearly 18 percent of the vote among the soldiers in last week’s election. In the January 2013 election, before they had merged, the two parties together got only 15 percent of it.
Still, the Zionist Union fared slightly better among the public at large than it did among the soldiers.
Meretz, on the other hand, enjoyed greater popularity among the soldiers than it did among the general public. The smaller, but more leftist, party, captured 4.6 percent of the votes among the soldiers, compared with 3.9 percent among Israelis in general. In the January 2013 election, by contrast, Meretz was not as popular among the soldiers as it was among the public at large. Only 4 percent of the soldiers voted for Meretz in that election, compared with 4.5 percent of Israelis on the whole.
Meretz also beat out one of its chief competitors for the soldier vote: the Green Leaf (“Ale Yarok”) ticket, a single-issue party that supports the legalization of marijuana. Green Leaf only got 3.6 percent of the soldier vote, whereas in the January 2013 race, it was neck-and-neck with Meretz at 4 percent.
A greater percentage of soldiers also gave their votes to Arab representatives in last week’s election. The breakdown shows that the Joint List, a merger of the four Arab parties, which ran in the last election, captured 3.1 percent of the soldier vote. Altogether, the Arab parties only got 2 percent of this vote in the last election. Clearly, the Arab parties are much less popular among the soldiers than among the general public, since only a tiny fraction of Arabs serve in the army, and these parties overwhelmingly draw votes from the Arab population.
Habayit Hayehudi, the right-wing national religious party, was a far more popular choice among the soldiers last week than it was among the general public, but much less popular than it was in the previous election. Almost 12.5 percent of the soldiers voted for Habayit Hayehudi last week, compared with just 6.7 percent among the public at large. In January 2013, however, 15 percent of the soldiers cast their ballot for Habayit Hayehudi.
In line with the nationwide trend, the centrist Yesh Atid party lost many votes the soldiers in the last week’s election, dropping down from the No. 2 spot to the No. 4 spot.
Likud remains the No. 1 vote getter among the soldiers. In last week’s election, it took 25.6 percent of the soldier vote, compared with 24 percent in the last election. In both cases, the share was slightly above the national average.
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