Kahol Lavan Signs Vote-sharing Deal With Labor-led Alliance

Move leaves the Joint List without a partner for a surplus-vote agreement in the upcoming election March 2 election

Labor chairman Amir Peretz and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz an election rally in Be’er Sheva, January 21, 2020.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Kahol Lavan and the Labor-Gesher-Meretz Knesset roster signed a surplus vote-sharing agreement on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming election. In the last election, in September, Kahol Lavan signed an agreement with Yisrael Beiteinu, which was explained at the time as an attempt to win another Knesset seat at the expense of right-wing voters.

Yisrael Beiteinu announced on Wednesday that it had decided not to sign a surplus vote agreement with any party in the March 2 election. If the combined votes of two parties add up to an extra seat, that seat goes to the one with the greater number of surplus votes, which is usually the bigger of the two parties.

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A Labor Party official said that his party believed that the arrangement would garner Kahol Lavan an extra Knesset seat. Cooperation between Kahol Lavan and the Labor-Gesher-Meretz slate leaves the largely Arab Joint List without a partner for a surplus-vote agreement in the upcoming election. 

Labor-Gesher Meretz has been trying to decide over the past few weeks whether to sign a surplus vote agreement with the Joint List. According to a party official: “We believed that Kahol Lavan would not sign with us and we deliberated whether it would be right to sign with the Joint List, which could increase its strength by means of Labor-Gesher-Meretz, or to run independently.”

Labor-Gesher-Meretz chairman MK Amir Peretz said Wednesday that the decision had been made “out of a sense of responsibility to the center-left bloc.” Peretz said: “We don’t have the privilege of missing the opportunity to change the government and its policy. The decision was made out of recognition that the size of the bloc, not the size of the party, is what decides who will form the next government.”

In the previous election, Likud and the right-wing party Yamina signed a surplus vote agreement, as did the ultra-Orthodox parties – Shas and United Torah Judaism. On the left, Labor and the Democratic Union (which have joined forces on one slate this time), signed an agreement, after Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh refused to do so with the Democratic Union as long as Ehud Barak was on the roster.