Zionist Union, Meretz May Revoke Their Surplus-vote Accord and Sign With Other Parties

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A worker in early February arranges ballot boxes in a warehouse near the central town of Shoham in preparation for Israel's March 17 general election.Credit: Reuters

The Zionist Union and Meretz are considering revoking their surplus-vote agreement and signing similar accords with other parties, to avoid losing — and possibly to gain — Knesset seats.

The Zionist Union is considering signing such an agreement with Yesh Atid, while Meretz might sign one with the Joint List, which includes Jews and the main Arab parties.

According to the law, two parties can agree to combine their surplus votes. These are votes that a party receives but that are not enough to qualify for a full Knesset seat.

If two parties combine their surplus votes, that total might be enough to qualify for a Knesset seat. In such a case, that seat goes to the party that contributed the larger number of surplus votes.

By revoking the agreement with each other, Zionist Union and Meretz each can sign with another party that has no such agreement.

Currently Yesh Atid and the Joint List have no such agreement with any other party. So if one signs with Zionist Union and the other with Meretz, the center-left bloc could gain one or two more Knesset seats when their surplus votes are tallied.

So far the Zionist Union, Yesh Atid and Meretz have agreed to this arrangement, but some Joint List members object to signing with a Zionist party.

Meretz and the Labor Party had signed a surplus-vote agreement soon after early elections were called but before the Zionist Union and the Joint List were formed. The Zionist Union was formed out of Isaac Herzog’s Labor and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah parties.

The Kulanu Party has signed such an agreement with Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud signed with Habayit Hayehudi and Shas signed with United Torah Judaism.

Another party that is expected to gain seats in the Knesset, but that still lacks a surplus-vote accord, is Yahad, headed by Eli Yishai, the former head of Shas.

Israel goes to the polls on March 17.

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