The 2001 Israeli Elections: What Next?

Election Outcome
About Prime Minister Sharon
Sharon on the Peace Process
The Need to Build a Governing Coalition
What Next for the Labor Party?

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The Election Outcome

In special elections held on February 6, Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister of the State of Israel by a massive spread. Prime Minister-elect Sharon received 62.5% of the vote, with the incumbent, Prime Minister Ehud Barak garnering 37.4%.

While it was the third time Israelis voted directly for Prime Minister, it was the first time that elections for the Knesset were not held at the same time. The Knesset elected into office in May 1999 remains in place. The term for the Knesset and the newly elected Prime Minister officially ends in November 2003.

This election had the lowest turnout in Israeli history – only 59% of eligible voters went to the polls, compared with the usual 80%. Israeli-Arabs, apparently angered by the Barak government clampdown of Israeli-Arab demonstrations in October, had an extremely low voter rate, well under their usual 75%.

As in the previous two elections, the Russian vote was extremely important to Sharon’s victory. In 1996, this immigrant community voted overwhelmingly for Benjamin Netanyahu. In 1999, they rejected Netanyahu and voted overwhelmingly for Ehud Barak. In 2001, they turned their backs on Barak and voted overwhelmingly for Ariel Sharon.

Next: About Prime Minister Sharon

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