Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It’s All About the Location

Yael Israeli

Local elections and the representatives chosen in these elections have a tremendous influence on all of our lives, at times even more than the national elections to the Knesset. Voting patterns and elected parties often reflect various processes that are developing across the city and within its different neighborhoods. The most recent elections in Jerusalem were especially lively and tense, and certainly among the most talked about in Israel.

A total of 576,100 individuals in Jerusalem have the right to vote, out of a total of 815,300 residents. The overall rate of voter turnout in the city was 39%, lower than the national average (51%). This was slightly lower than the previous local elections, in 2008, when voter turnout reached 42%. But if we don’t take into account the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, where voter turnout is especially low – only about 1%, then voter turnout for the city reached 56% this year. 

It is especially interesting to examine the voting patterns across various neighborhoods, which often indicate patterns of change within those areas. In the neighborhoods of Rehavia, Talbieh, East Talpiot, Gilo, Old Katamon, and the City Center, Jerusalem’s pluralistic parties (Hit’orerut, Yerushalmim, Yerushalaim Tatsliach, Meretz-Ha’Avoda, and Ometz Lev) received relatively strong voter support – between 60% and 70%. In Rehavia and the City Center, voter support for ultra-orthodox parties (Agudat Israel, Shas, and Bnei Torah) was relatively high – 15% and 26%, respectively. The neighborhoods with the highest rates of voter support for the pluralistic parties were Ein Kerem, Nayot, Malha, Beit HaKerem, the German Colony, and Baka’a – each had between 80% and 90% support for these parties. The ultra-orthodox parties received over 85% voter support in the neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo, Sanhedria, Mekor Baruch, Romema, and Har Nof.

Let us now examine two neighborhoods that have been undergoing change in recent years. In Kiryat Yovel, ultra-orthodox parties received 24% of the vote, pluralistic parties received 58%, and HaBayit HaYehudi and Yerushalaim Meuchedet received 8%. The overall result was a 10% increase for ultra-orthodox parties as compared with the 2008 elections. In Kiryat Moshe, 29% of voters supported ultra-orthodox parties, 24% voted for pluralistic parties, 16% for HaBayit HaYehudi, and 25% for Yerushalaim Meuchedet – relatively comparable to the distribution in the 2008 elections. 

What neighborhood is each party most indebted to? In Old Katamon there was sweeping support for the Yerushalmim party – 2,491 votes – which received more votes than any other party within this neighborhood, accounting for 15% of all the votes it received. Yerushalaim Tatsliach and Hit’orerut received the largest number of votes in Gilo (3,600 and 2,500 votes, respectively), Agudat Yisrael and Shas in Ramot (8,600 and 5,700 votes respectively), Yerushalaim Meuchedet in Givat Shaul (1,100 votes), and Meretz-Ha’Avoda received the most votes in Beit HaKerem (1,500 votes). 

Finally, let’s not forget voter distribution for the mayoral election. Nir Barkat received his largest number of votes in Pisgat Ze’ev – a total of 11,000 votes – but this is not surprising given that it is one of the largest neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Likewise, Moshe Lion received his largest number of votes in Ramot (13,000), which is also one of the largest neighborhoods in the city. Barkat received his highest percentage of voter support in Nayot, at 95%, while Moshe Lion received his highest percentage in Ramat Shlomo, where 91% voted for him.