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Ben-gurion Elated over Election Results; States Views on Coalition

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Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion said today that he would give preference in the next coalition Government to those parties which favored a change of the existing election system to a regional arrangement.

In an interview in Yediot Achronot, an evening daily, given at his Negev retreat at Sde Boker, the Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction with what he called “the maturity of the nation” in Tuesday’s national election, particularly the refusal of Israel’s Sephardic community to follow the special Sephardic lists none of which won a single seat in Knesset, Israel’s Parliament.

Observers, commenting on Mr. Ben-Gurion’s expression of preference, noted that the only party, other than Mapai, on record for abolition of Israel’s proportional representation election system, was the General Zionists party which suffered the heaviest losses in the election.

Mr. Ben-Gurion summed up the election outcome with the comment that Achdut Avodah–which dropped two or three seats–lost to Herut, which picked up two seats. He said the General Zionists, whose leaders he blamed for the party losses, also lost to Herut. He said also that he was convinced many Herut members voted for Mapai.

The apparent slight gain of Mapam, he said, was at the expense of the Communists. He was particularly critical of Gen. Yigal Alon of the Achdut Avodah and Menachem Beigin of Herut. He said the two leaders were wrong in their campaigning and deserved their disappointments. The Prime Minister disclaimed any personal victory and said it was his party which deserved the credit.

NEW GOVERNMENT MAY BE FORMED OF MAPAI, GENERAL ZIONISTS, PROGRESSIVES

Initial gestures in the usual post-election coalition negotiations were made today although the actual struggle is not scheduled to begin for another two weeks.

With Mapai expected to have a possible 48 seats in the Knesset, plus three or four seats from Mapai-affiliated Arab parties Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion will be in a stronger than ever position in the choice of coalition partners. An indication of Mapai’s feeling of greater strength emerged from criticism of Achdut Avodah, attributed to the Prime Minister, who also was quoted as saying that “the smaller labor parties should have learned the lesson of these elections.”

The Mapai-supporting Jerusalem Post carried a report claiming the Prime Minister might take the General Zionists and the Progressives as partners in the next coalition. This proposal seemed to be in conflict with the fact that the three labor parties–Mapai, Mapam and Achdut Avodah–received together more than half of all votes cast, which was seen as an indication that the Israel electorate wanted a continuation of a labor coalition.

The National Religious Party, which emerged from the elections with an apparent slight increase in voter support, let it be known that it was ready to discuss terms for joining the next coalition.

Observers expressed the belief that when talks get underway, they will begin by conversations between the Prime Minister and all parties except the right-wing Herut and the Communists to ascertain minimum demands. Thereafter hard bargaining will eliminate the unacceptable parties until a coalition is formed.

There were reports that Mr. Ben-Gurion might personally prefer the “cheaper” terms of the badly-beaten General Zionists and of the Religious party. Most Mapai leaders, however, particularly the younger generation, were reported as convinced that a coalition with Mapam and Achdut Avodah would be more stable, efficient and reasonable in a long-term coalition, even though such a coalition would probably require more concessions from Mapai.

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