JERUSALEM (Nov. 4)
Premier David Ben-Gurion and his Mapai party drove today to an impressive victory in Israel’s elections to the fourth Knesset.
The moderately Socialist party which has held power in Israel in a succession of coalition governments since 1948, increased its percentage of the total vote and won at least six and possibly as many as nine additional seats in the new Parliament, giving it a minimum of 46 as compared to 40 in the old Knesset. In addition, Premier Ben-Gurion could count on three more seats won by the Mapai-sponsored Arab parties.
The Mapai surge checkmated the Herut party’s drive to power. The right-wing party apparently won two additional seats, bringing its total in the new Parliament to 17, but it failed to make any appreciable increase in the proportion of the vote it captured.
The middle-of-the-road General Zionist or Free Enterprise Party took the worst beating of the election. It won slightly more than six percent of the vote and lost an estimated five of the 13 seats it had held. The left-wing Achdut Avodah party also suffered losses and will have seven or eight seats as compared to ten in the last Parliament. The Communist Party, polling about 2. 8 percent of the vote, will have three seats in the new Knesset as compared to six in the last.
The left-wing Mapam party, polling 7-2 percent of the vote, actually fell behind its showing in the last general elections but managed to keep its nine seats. None of the splinter parties–the North African settlers list headed by David Ben Haroush, the Bundists or the communal lists–managed to win one percent of the vote.
Along with Mapai, the Religious party and the Progressive party could claim success today. The National Religious party, composed of Mizrachi and Hapoel Hamizrachi, won 9. 9 percent of the votes and was sure at least to retain its 11 seats. The Progressive party received 4. 6 percent of the vote and was slated to increase its representation from five to six.
Final composition of the new Knesset had to await counting of the Army vote which was generally expected to follow the general pattern, and readjustment of the party percent ages following elimination of the vote for the dozen or so parties that failed to qualify. This was not expected to alter the overall picture materially and it appeared that Mapai, with its long-time ally, the Progressives, and the pro-Mapai Arabs, could obtain a solid Knesset majority in a coalition embracing the Mapam and Achdut Avodah.
SAME GOVERNMENT COALITION FORESEEN; NEW BEN-GURION PROGRAM PREDICTED
Jubilant Mapai leaders stressed today that the election results considerably strengthened Ben-Gurion’s hand in negotiations for formation of a new coalition. They pointed out, too, that with Mapai’s increased strength, it was not restricted in its choice of coalition partners to the left-wing parties.
However, observers were confident today that the new Government Mr. Ben-Gurion will form will have the same components as before–Mapai, the Progressives, Mapam and the Achdut Avodah. The coalition would control some 70 seats in the 120-man Knesset.
They said that when Mr. Ben-Gurion resumes office at the head of a new Government, with a parliamentary majority at his command, he will act swiftly on a program to prepare Israel for the time when West German reparations cease and United States Government aid diminishes. At the same time, lower European tariffs and a shift of the East-West conflict to the economic field will greatly intensify competition on world markets where Israel must seek expanding sales.
Mr. Ben-Gurion, therefore, is expected to seek a wage freeze and abolition of various hidden subsidies, plus higher customs and taxes which may increase prices on the domestic market. Mapai leaders were understood to consider the increased vote for their party as a mandate for action and their increased strength in the Knesset as freeing them from unite concern over the opposition from left and right to unpopular changes.
Mapai’s success is believed to have been due partly to the development of apprehension among many voters that Herut might become a major factor in Israel political life. The huge General Zionist losses were attributed to internal dissensions, lack of appealing issues and organization and possibly to resentment over the inclusion of the son of the Sepherdic Chief Rabbi in a bid for Oriental votes.