This article reviews the results of the elections for the 21st Knesset in Arab and Druze communities. It also examines voting patterns in these localities by demographic characteristics (by ethnic group and geographical area) and voting patterns of Arab residents in mixed cities. The discussion then deals with two issues: (a) the question of the renewed connection between the Arab voter and Jewish parties; (b) the voting patterns of Christian voters. All data presented here were taken from the conclusions of Central Elections Committee. 
The last elections for Knesset were marked by a historic low in the voting rate of Arab citizens of Israel; only 49.2% of eligible voters in Arab and Druze communities voted on Election Day. In this way, the last election campaign appears to be another milestone in the downward trend in voter turnout of Arab citizens in Knesset elections. In the past two decades, this rate has fallen by more than 25%: - from 75% percent in the elections for the 15th Knesset (1999) to 49.2% in the most recent election (2019). In retrospect, the relative increase in voter turnout in the previous election cycle (2015) only reinforces the conclusion that the increase was the exception rather than the reversal of the trend, as even with the participation of the Joint List – the same party that touted itself as the “will of the nation” – the voting rate rose only by 7% in comparison to the 2013 elections (in 2015 Arab turnout was 63.5%, as compared with 56.5% in 2019).
Despite the historic low in voter turnout, the two Arab lists (two alliances, each with two parties) succeeded in passing the electoral threshold and maintained reasonable representation in the Knesset. Hadash-Ta'al won 6 seats and Ra'am-Balad received 4 seats. The overall representation of the four parties in these two alliances (10 seats total) was three seats less than the number of seats held by Arab representatives of Arab parties in the outgoing Knesset (13 seats), wherein the four parties ran together on the Joint List.
The erosion of the strength of the four parties is properly reflected by comparing their specific weight in the Arab public in the last two election cycles. In the 2015 elections, the Joint List won 387,810 votes in Arab and Druze communities, which constituted 52% of eligible voters and 82% of the actual voters in these communities. In contrast, in the last elections, the two alliances (representing the four parties that once formed the Joint List) won 292,500 votes in Arab and Druze communities, which accounts for only 34% of eligible voters and 71% of the actual voters in these communities. Thus, although the number of eligible voters in the Arab and Druze communities has increased by 14% due to natural population growth, the combined achievements of these two alliances (in absolute numbers) in Arab and Druze communities were 25% lower than the achievements of the Joint List in the 2015 elections.
Two other small Arab lists ran in the last elections but did not pass the electoral threshold. The Arab List, headed by Mohammed Kan'aan, won 4,135 votes, and the Hope for Change list won only 562 votes. Altogether, the Arab lists received 71.6% of the votes from Arab and Druze communities, while 28.4% of the votes in these localities were cast for Jewish parties, mainly Meretz (8.7%) and the Blue and White Party (8.1%).
A breakdown of the voting results by demographic characteristics (ethnic group and geographical area) shows that voter turnout in the north of the country (52.0%) and in the Triangle region (49.9%) was slightly higher than the national rate (49.2%). Voter turnout among Druze voters (56.6%) was relatively high, with an overwhelming majority (90%) voting for Jewish parties. Turnout was also relatively high in the Southern Triangle (60%). The highest ever voter turnout was recorded in Sakhnin (81.4%), the city of Mazen Ghaneim, who in October 2018 completed two consecutive terms as mayor and held the sixth position for a seat in Knesset on the Ra’am-Balad list. Although the alliance won more than 10,000 votes in the city (about 60% of eligible votes), Ghaneim remained outside the Knesset.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the low voter turnout in Nazareth, the country’s largest Arab city, was pronounced. Only 40% of the 57,000 eligible voters in the city actually voted. The residents of Nazareth were apparently disappointed in the exclusion of Mayor Ali Salam from the Arab lists for Knesset. Salam was elected to another term in the last local election and is popular among his constituents, who appear to have expressed their protest by not voting in the elections.
As has been the case in previous elections, voter turnout was particularly low among the Bedouin in the Negev, with only 37.5% voting. Two-thirds of the votes in Bedouin communities were cast for the Ra’am-Balad list. If the voter turnout of the Bedouin voters in the Negev had been similar to the general voter turnout in Arab localities, it would be quite possible that the Ra’am-Balad list would have won another seat, and the fifth candidate on the list, Taleb Abu Arar of the Negev, would therefore have been elected to serve as an MK.
Voting in Mixed Cities
How did Arab voters in mixed cities vote? To answer this question, we examine a sample of polling stations in each of the cities in which the percentage of votes for the two Arab alliances was significantly higher than the percentage of the city’s Arab residents. In Ma’alot-Tarshiha, five polling stations in Arab Tarshiha were selected to represent the actual voting patterns of the city’s Arab residents.
The findings demonstrate that in most of the mixed cities (Haifa, Akko, Ma’alot-Tarshiha, Ramle and Tel Aviv) the rate of Arab participation was similar to the general voting rate in Arab localities. In Upper Nazareth, a significantly higher voting rate was observed in comparison with the national Arab voting average, while in Lod, the opposite picture emerged, with the lowest voter turnout of the mixed cities.
A comparison of the findings from the 2019 elections to the 2015 elections (in which the Joint List competed) shows that in mixed cities, the participation rate of Arab voters in the last elections declined, similar to the overall decline in voter turnout in Arab localities throughout Israel. The steepest decline was in Ma’alot-Tarshiha (approximately 21%), however it is reasonable to assume that the moderate decline in votes from the two large cities of Haifa (9%) and Tel Aviv-Yafo (11%) significantly reduced the overall number of votes received by Arab lists in comparison with the number of votes won by the Joint List in the 2015 elections.
The Arab Voter and the Jewish Party: Renewed Ties?
It is no coincidence that the two Jewish parties that emerged with the most impressive achievements in Arab communities were Meretz and the Blue and White Party. Meretz placed two Arab candidates in realistic positions on their list: in fourth position, Issaw Freij, a Muslim from Kufr Qassem who had served as an MK since 2013, and in fifth position, Ali Salalha, a Druze candidate from Beit Jann. In the end, the party won only four seats and as such, the Druze candidate failed to enter the Knesset, but the party demonstrated to the Arab voter - both in its platform and in the presence of its members on the ground during the election day - that it was serious in its intentions to bring about a positive change in the status of Arab citizens in the country. In fact, nearly a quarter of the votes Meretz received in the last elections were drawn from voters in Arab and Druze communities; its lack of support among Jewish voters is what prevented it from increasing its power.
Support for the Blue and White Party came mainly from Druze voters. A third of them, more than any other population segment in Arab society, gave their vote to the new party headed by Benny Gantz. Anger over the passage of the Nation-State Law – anger which was expressed in one of the popular demonstrations against the law held last summer in Tel Aviv – explains Druze support of the Blue and White Party; Druze voters sought to pay the Netanyahu government retribution for supporting the law.
In the three previous elections (2009-2015) the Jewish parties won an average of 19% of Arab votes. The significant increase of Arab votes cast for Jewish parties in the last elections (28%) raises the question: Has the Arab voters’ connection to Jewish parties been renewed?
Evidently, the answer to this question is “no.” It should be taken into account that while the rate of voting in Arab communities fell to an unprecedented low in the last elections, most of those who refrained from voting support Arab parties. In a poll conducted by the Konrad Adenauer Program about three weeks before Election Day, 63% of the respondents (in total) declared that, regardless of their actual intention to participate in the elections, they feel close to the position of the Arab political parties and movements. Of those, 57% said they support one of the four main parties: Hadash, Balad, Ta’al or Ra’am. On the other hand, 20% of the respondents said that they feel close to the positions of the Jewish parties – a percentage similar to the average rate of Arab support for Jewish parties in the previous three elections. The rest of the respondents, about 17%, said they did not identify with any political party or refused to reveal their position. 
Conclusively, the Arab parties suffered the stiffest blow from election boycotting and the sharp drop in the participation rate of Arab citizens. Conversely, the electorate of the Jewish parties remained almost unchanged, and as evidenced, the Druze participation rate in the last elections (56.6%) also remained unchanged since the 2015 elections (56.3%).
Arab Christian Voting
The Christian vote merits special consideration. The identity dilemmas of the Arab-Christian community in Israel have intensified in recent years under the influence of the events of the “Arab Spring,” and are now being studied more deeply. In contrast to Christian’s traditional identification with Arab parties (especially Hadash), a new trend has arisen in which there is a deepening identification with the state, even including Christian enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces.  In order to examine the manifestation of these trends in the recent Knesset elections, voting patterns were examined in four localities in the Upper Galilee, where the population is either entirely or overwhelmingly Christian: Fassuta and Me'ilya (both 100% Christian), ‘Eilabun (71% Christian), and Jish (64% Christian). The electorate in these communities is not insignificant and consists of 11,624 eligible voters (slightly more than the number of Arab Christian voters in Haifa, for example).
The findings presented in Table 2 (above) show that the Christian voters in these communities are divided in their positions: a small majority (54%) supported Arab parties. 45% of the votes went to Hadash-Ta’al, in accordance with their traditional voting loyalty. In contrast, nearly half of the Christian voters (46%) voted for Jewish parties, mainly Meretz (16.9%) and the Blue and White Party (15.9%). The question therefore arises: Is there an upward trend in the power of the Jewish parties among the Christians?
In order to answer this question, a counter-sample was drawn from two religiously mixed Arab localities – Kufr Yasif and I’iblin – which meet the following conditions:
- The percentage of Christians is particularly high: Kufr Yasif (52% Christian/45% Muslim/ 3% Druze); I’iblin (43% Christian/57% Muslim).
- The proportion of Druze is negligible, and Druze votes for Jewish parties are therefore neutralized. For this reason, the town of Rameh (50% Christian/31% Druze/19% Muslim) was not chosen. Indeed, in Rameh, the rate of support for Jewish parties was 51%.
- The size of the electoral population in the sample localities and their voter turnout is similar to the situation in the Christian localities mentioned above.
A contrasting picture emerges from the data. In the sample localities, Arab parties received considerable support, 78.7%, while support for Jewish parties was only 21.3%. In fact, voting patterns in these localities are similar to those of Arabs on the national plain. From this, it can be concluded that in religiously mixed Arab localities, voting patterns tend toward the general Arab (Muslim) mainstream - high support for Arab parties and less support for Jewish parties.
The main phenomenon observed in the last elections was a sharp decline in voter turnout of Arab citizens. This phenomenon has a number of reasons, which are thoroughly discussed in this issue, in the article by Muhammad Darawashe. However, despite the historic low in the voting rate, the achievements of the Arab parties in these elections were considerable and all four founding parties of the now dismantled Joint List maintained their representation in the Knesset. Both the overall decline in the nationwide voter turnout rate and the fact that Arab voters do not tend to throw away their votes on parties that don’t pass the electoral threshold contributed to this. Thus, with the counting of valid votes given to lists that succeeded in passing the threshold, the relative weight of Arab votes increased.
However, it is clear to the Arab parties that there is no stability. It is difficult to draw a demographic profile of non-voters. It is also difficult to know the proportion of non-voters who deliberately boycotted the elections and the proportion of those abstaining out of political indifference. According to the Konrad Adenauer survey (cited above), it can be estimated that most of those aged 35 and under - almost 60% - did not vote on Election Day. These young people are the future generation in Arab politics, and the ball is now in their court. Arab parties must adopt a discourse of "new politics," take account of public criticism about their failed conduct that led to the dismantling of the Joint List, and even open their doors to young political parties who are not necessarily affiliated with their party apparatus. In this respect, the recent elections could mark the beginning of a new era in Arab politics in Israel.
Arik Rudnitzky is Project Manager of the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation, Moshe Dayan Center, Tel Aviv University.
 The data on the 2015 elections were taken from: Arik Rudnitzky, “An Analysis of the 20th Knesset Election Results in the Arab Sector.” Bayan 5 (May 2015), pp. 3-13.
 The survey was conducted from March 12 to March 16, 2019 among a representative sample of eligible Arab and Druze voters. The sample included 506 respondents, and the maximum sampling error was 5%. The survey was conducted by the Yafa Research Institute, headed by Aas Atrash.
 Yusri Khaizran and Muhammad Khlaile, Left to its Fate: Arab Society in Israel Under the Shadow of the “Arab Spring” (Tel-Aviv University: The Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation, 2019). [in Hebrew]