Labor Alignment Drops Six Seats, Likud Shows Gain of Six-seven Seats in Knesset

With less than half of the general vote counted and the Army vote still unknown, Premier Golda Meir’s Labor Alignment appeared today to have lost some six seats in the Knesset against a gain of 6-7 seats for the non-Labor opposition alignment; Likud. That was the outcome of the eighth Knesset elections predicted by experts on the basis of computer projections and analyses of the available returns. The official vote may not be known until Sunday or later. Unless the Army vote upsets the prevailing trend, Mrs. Meir’s party will probably emerge with 50 seats in the new Knesset against 56 in the old; the Likud bloc will have 39 seats against its previous 32; and the National Religious Party will remain about the same probably with 12 seats, although early returns indicated that it may have lost one seat.

The other member of Premier Meir’s old coalition, the Independent Liberals headed by Moshe Kol, seems to have picked up a seat, giving them five in the new Knesset against four in the old. The pro-Moscow Rakah Communists appear to have added one seat to their previous three. The new Moked bloc, comprising pro-Zionist Maki Communists and non-Communist leftist intellectuals scored only one seat which is what Maki held in the old Knesset. The soldiers’ vote could possibly give it an additional seat. Mrs. Shulamit Aloni, who defected from the Labor Party to form her own independent Civil Rights List, appears to have won two seats, better than expected. The ultra-Orthodox Aguda-Poalei Aguda bloc, running on a single ticket, lost one of their six seats. The splinter parties–old and new–fared poorly and none of them, according to early returns, appears to have attained the one percent of the vote required for a Knesset seat. But, again, the Army vote could conceivably pull one or more of them over the top.

According to the first returns, losers include Uri Avneri, the flamboyant editor of Haolam Hazeh magazine and his one-time associate and now bitter foe, Shalom Cohen. Avneri ran on the Meri list, a small coalition of leftist peace advocates which failed to gain one percent of the vote. Cohen headed the Black Panthers, a loose coalition of slum dwellers of Oriental extraction. Several other Oriental (Sephardic) splinter lists, all bitter rivals, managed to defeat one another without gaining a single seat. The Blue-and-White Panthers also failed to make the Knesset nor, it seems, did Dr. Avner Sciaky, a defector from the National Religious Party, win the minimum vote for his independent list. Another probable loser is Rabbi Meir Kahane whose militant Jewish Defense League was thoroughly disliked and distrusted by both government and opposition voters as a menace to Arab-Jewish harmony.

Yesterday’s turn-out of voters was higher than expected considering the election eve polls which showed a large percentage of the electorate undecided. It was estimated that more than 80 percent of the eligible voters had cast ballots by the time civilian polls closed at 11 p.m. Army polis stayed open until midnight and in some cases probably longer. A final tally of the Army vote is not expected for another 4-5 days. As of this morning, the Arab vote was largely unknown. Israeli Arabs presented two pro-Labor and one-pro-Likud list and one independent list. But a significant number of Arabs appear to have voted for the Rakah Communists which may account for their apparent gain of one seat. The Arab vote for Rakah appears to have been at the expense of Labor.

The poor showing of the Aguda bloc was attributed to the objection of many ultra-Orthodox voters to the shaky marriage between Aguda Israel and Poalei Aguda Israel. In the religious township of Bnei Brak many voters marked ballots with the letter gimmel for Aguda Israel instead of the letters gimmel-dalet for the combined list. At Poalei Aguda kibbutzim, voters did the opposite. In all cases, those ballots were voided. The Moked list, headed by Meir Payil, made small but important gains among the major kibbutz movements affiliated with the various Labor factions and Mapam. In Mapam kibbutzim–the Kibbutz Haartzi movement–Moked scored as much as seven percent of the vote which is regarded as a protest against Mapam’s continued affiliation with Mrs. Meir’s Labor Alignment. Moked won 2.7 percent in Kibbutz Meuchad (Achdut Avoda) kibbutzim and 2.3 percent in kibbutzim affiliated with Mapai (Ichud Havutzot VeHakibbutzim).

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