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Yisraeli general election, 2000

Yisraeli general election, 2000
Royal Flag of Yisrael.png
9 January 2000 (2000-01-09) Jan. 2002 →
Turnout83.97% Increase
  Yis Yanky Fishbein pic 1.jpg Yis Naor Hillel pic 1.jpg
Party Royalist Conservative Party Constitutional Liberal Party
Alliance Right Bloc Left Bloc
Popular vote 2,568,012 2,234,965
Percentage 50.9% 48.7%

President before election

Yanky Fishbein
Royalist Conservative Party

Elected President

Naor Hillel
Constitutional Liberal Party

The 2000 Yisraeli general election was held on January 9, 2000. It featured elections for President and the full Knesset, as well as some District gubernatorial and legislative seats and a litany of local municipal offices. This was one of the closest presidential elections in history, with the 103-89 Electoral College vote the tightest margin since its inception. It was also notable as the first election in which the popular vote winner lost the Electoral College vote. The electoral margin came down to recounts in the Central and Yerushalayim Districts, both of which narrowly went for Hillel over Fishbein by less than a 1% of the vote in each district after the final recounts.

The 2000 election is viewed as the "peak" of the era of hyper-competitive elections between 1988 and the present. The election is notable for how close Fishbein, the Conservative incumbent, came to winning the Central District, an electoral behemoth that routinely favors the Con-Libs. His 49.8% margin was the best showing for the Conservatives in decades. The Constitutional Liberals also flipped the Knesset from Blue to Gold, winning a 97-seat Gold-Silver-Pale-Green-Oceanic-White majority, returning the Left Bloc to legislative control after four years of being in the political minority. While the Con-Libs themselves gained dozens of seats to sit at 71 seats, just one shy of an outright majority, Hillel and the Con-Lib leadership chose to ally with multiple left-of-center parties to form a "national center-left unity" coalition.

Background

The 2000 election came at a tumultuous and complicated time in Yisraeli politics and society. Yisrael was enjoying years of economic prosperity from the Internet boom in the late 1990s. The financial sector also enjoyed rising profits from the new hedge-fund markets. Inflation was moderately-high and wages were growing.

Politically, on the other hand, the incumbent Conservative president Adom Greenbaum, elected in 1996, resigned in disgraced due to his corruption scandal and campaign finance violation indictment in July 1997. His vice-president, Yanky Fishbein, assumed the office with over two and a half years left in Greenbaum's term.

Fishbein was low-key, affable, and uncontroversial. Even his liberal critics joked about his government "running on autopilot." With few foreign crises and good economic standing, there seemed few issues for voters to pay attention to, largely tuning out the insider-heavy arguments and debates among the political class and in the Knesset. Fishbein's likeability and perceived integrity (as well as his support of the Ministry of Justice pursuing an indictment against Greenbaum for campaign finance violations and corruption charges) actually prevented an electoral disaster in the 1998 midterms, with the Conservatives' losing just five seats and maintaining their Knesset majority by a single vote.

Fishbein's aura of invincibility kept many ambitious top-tier Constitutional Liberal candidates away. Naor Hillel, himself a low-key Knesset backbencher who served 15 terms from a deep-gold MK constituency in Dervaylik, won the CLP primary over several lackluster opponents. Despite Hillel being more liberal than average, in an attempt to woo suburban swing voters from Fishbein, he selected Ariel Halevi, a 37-year-old former Conservative-turned-Independent who was mayor of Yerushalayim as well as Dati. The Hillel-Halevi ticket ran on "winning the future" while Fishbein and his VP, Noam Itzchak, positioned themselves as "keeping Yisrael honest and growing."

Electoral system

The presidential election is determined by an electoral college in which the plurality majority vote winner in each district wins that jurisdiction's electoral votes, with a majority of 97 EVs needed to secure a majority of the 192-vote College.

The Knesset and other elections are plurality majority direct elections in single-member districts using a first-past-the-post electoral system.

Voting eligibility

To be eligible to vote in the election, one must be:

  • registered to vote with the Royal Yisraeli Election Commission;
  • aged 21 years old by the registration deadline of September 9, 1999;
  • a Yisraeli citizen; and
  • not excluded from voting (whether by legal incompetency, found guilty of or convicted of a felony, etc.) or not disqualified from voting.

Timetable

June 9, 1999 Royal Yisraeli Election Commission staff prepared balloting and election machines for upcoming elections.
August 16, 1999 Major parties (traditionally the Conservatives and Constitutional Liberals) hold their presidential nomination conventions. Unofficial kickoff of the general election season begins.
September 9, 1999 Last day to register to vote.
November 9, 1999 Last day for independents and new parties to file to run for office on the ballot.
January 9, 2000 Election Day: National polls opened at 6am and closed at 7pm.
January 14, 2020 Election results, including election recounts, verified.
January 17, 2020 The President-elect and Members-elect of Knesset and local offices were sworn in.

Coalitions and parties

At the presidential level, two coalitions contested the office: The Right Bloc (Conservatives, cross-endorsed by the National Union and Torah Achdus), and the Left Bloc (the Constitutional Liberals cross-endorsed by the Yisraeli Christian Association, the Green Party, and the Yisraeli Labor Party).

At the Knesset and conditionally at the District and local levels, the Bloc members each, to some degree, had election pacts to not run candidates against the others or at least non-aggression/no-negative advertising/cease-fire pacts in districts where their candidates were both contesting an office.

General election polling

Presidential

Polling firm Date Candidate/Political Bloc Undecided Type of Voters Surveyed
Yanky Fishbein
(Right Bloc)
Naor Hillel
(Left Bloc)
Zman Yisrael January 7, 2000 51% 46% 3% Likely voters
Gib'ul HaTzafone January 7, 2000 53% 45% 2% Likely voters
(with a weighted online panel)*
Royal Yerushalayim Dispatch January 7, 2000 49% 48% 3% Likely voters
King David University January 6, 2000 47% 47% 5% Likely voters
Channel 9 TV January 6, 2000 47% 50% 2% Likely voters
Oved Yehudi HaBavli January 5, 2000 46% 49% 5% Registered voters
HaMaariv January 3–5, 2000 50% 49% <1% Likely voters
Royal Yerushalayim Dispatch January 3-6, 2000 49% 49% <1% Likely voters
King Solomon University December 29-30, 1999 46% 43% 7% Likely voters
Union of Dati Leumi Synogogues December 30, 1999 44% 47% 3%** Likely voters
(with an online panel)*
Zman Yisrael December 29, 1999 44% 38% 8%** Likely voters
Channel 10 TV December 28, 1999 45% 45% 9% Likely voters
Salomon Polling Associates, Ltd. December 22-23, 1999 39% 47% 12% Likely voters
(with a weighted
online panel
)*
Channel 10 TV December 21-22, 1999 41% 39% 18% Registered voters
Oved Yehudi HaBavli December 13-17, 1999 45% 54% <1%** Registered voters
Royal Yerushalayim Dispatch December 13, 1999 37% 37% 25% Likely voters
King David University School of Law December 13, 1999 43% 47% 10% Likely voters
Nishma Research December 13, 1999 44% 44% 12%** Likely voters
(with an online panel)*
Channel 9 TV December 1–2, 1999 40% 38% 22%** Likely voters
Nishma Research December 1, 1999 39% 35% 23% Likely voters
Oved Yehudi HaBavli November 30-December 2, 1999 39% 47% 13% Registered voters
Channel 10 TV November 29-30, 1999 42% 37% 19% Likely voters
Channel 20 TV November 26-30, 1999 39% 39% 18% Likely voters
King Solomon University November 22-26, 1999 38% 35% 26% Registered voters
Salomon Polling Associates, Ltd. November 25-26, 1999 37% 42% 19%** Likely voters
(with a weighted
online panel
)*
Nishma Research November 22-24, 1999 35% 34% 29%** Likely voters
(with an online panel)*
Gib'ul HaTzafone November 22, 1999 41% 37% 19% Registered voters
(with a weighted online panel)*
Zman Yisrael November 15-19, 1999 43% 43% 12% Likely voters
Goldman Independent Surveys November 15–17, 1999 36% 42% 20% Likely voters
Royal Yerushalayim Dispatch November 10-12, 1999 36% 37% 21% Registered voters
King Solomon University November 8-9, 1999 29% 34% 34% Registered voters
Channel 9 TV November 5, 1999 38% 36% 19% Likely voters
HaMaariv November 4-5, 1999 39% 40% 18% Registered voters
Oved Yehudi HaBavli November 1-5, 1999 36% 36% 27% Registered voters
Royal Yerushalayim Dispatch October 29-November 1, 1999 37% 31% 26% Likely voters
Zman Yisrael October 27–29, 1999 39% 45% 12% Likely voters
Channel 20 TV October 25–26, 1999 41% 37% 22% Likely voters
Zman Yisrael October 25–27, 1999 40% 38% 19% Likely voters
King David University October 22–25, 1999 42% 42% 15% Likely voters
HaMaariv October 21–22, 1999 45% 44% 8% Likely voters
Channel 20 TV/
Bayis HaYehudi
October 19–21, 1999 40% 40% 9% Registered voters
Oved Yehudi HaBavli October 18, 1999 36% 39% 14% Registered voters
King Solomon University October 15–18, 1999 37% 37% 25% Registered voters
Salomon Polling Associates, Ltd. October 14–15, 1999 37% 43% 18% Likely voters
Zman Yisrael October 11–14, 1999 39% 38% 19% Likely voters
International Financial Insider October 12, 1999 35% 38% 16% Registered voters
Channel 20 TV October 11, 1999 37% 31% 25% Registered voters
Oved Yehudi HaBavli October 7–11, 1999 35% 37% 17% Registered voters
Channel 9 TV October 6, 1999 45% 39% 14% Likely voters
Channel 20 TV October 4-6, 1999 49% 37% 12% Likely voters
Royal Yerushalayim Dispatch October 4-5, 1999 43% 33% 19% Likely voters
King Solomon University September 23, 1999 37% 37% 24% Registered voters
Salomon Polling Associates, Ltd. September 23, 1999 42% 46% 10% Likely voters
Zman Yisrael September 22, 1999 45% 40% 14% Likely voters
Union of Dati Leumi Synogogues September 22, 1999 39% 29% 29% Registered voters
HaMaariv September 16–17, 1999 43% 37% 19% Registered voters
Channel 20 TV September 13–16, 1999 39% 37% 18% Registered voters
Channel 10 TV September 13–14, 1999 44% 36% 17% Registered voters
Oved Yehudi HaBavli September 8–9, 1999 35% 38% 21% Registered voters
Salomon Polling Associates, Ltd. September 7, 1999 36% 36% 12% Registered voters
Royal Yerushalayim Dispatch September 6–7, 1999 46% 41% 9% Likely voters
Channel 20 TV August 30-September 3, 1999 37% 35% 25% Registered voters
Channel 9 TV August 30-September 2, 1999 32% 34% 32% Registered voters
Zman Yisrael August 30-31, 1999 38% 37% 12% Likely voters
King Solomon University August 27-30, 1999 35% 35% 28% Registered voters
Channel 20 TV August 23–27, 1999 39% 38% 8% Likely voters
Nishma Research August 24-25, 1999 40% 40% 8%** Likely voters
(with an online panel)*
Salomon Polling Associates, Ltd. August 19-20, 1999 41% 44% 10% Likely voters
(with a weighted
online panel
)*
Channel 10 TV August 18, 1999 32% 39% 27% Registered voters
HaMaariv August 16–17, 1999 45% 44% 7% Likely voters

Notes:
* - The inclusion of online participation in opinion surveys has been found to be statistically uneven and should be viewed as less accurate than traditional methods (YCOR, "Effect of New Methodologies In Opinion Research," 1998).
** - The Yisraeli College of Opinion Researchers notes that polls and surveys with an undecided tally of less than <5% beyond the last two days before an election are less accurate, statistically, than polls with undecided voters comprising ≥5%.

Knesset

Results

Presidential

The Left Bloc candidate Naor Hillel won the Electoral College by a vote of 103 - winning the Dervaylik, Southern, Central, and Yerushalayim Districts. His opponent, the Right Bloc's Yanky Fishbein, won 89 votes, winning the Yarden River Valley, Northern, Western, and Eastern Districts.

Nationwide, the popular vote came out to 2,568,012 votes for Fishbein (50.9%) versus 2,234,965 votes for Hillel (48.7%).

Knesset

Despite the close presidential vote, unlike in 1998, Fishbein's popularity and likeability did not help his party's candidates down-ballot in this election, and the Conservatives faced a Knesset wipe-out, going into the election clinging to the thinnest of bare majorities with 72 seats and plummeting to 41 seats, one of their worse legislative showings in history.

Although the Con-Libs were one seat short of an outright majority, Hillel and party leaders in the Knesset wanted to enact a "national center-left unity" coalition to pass sweeping legislation with legislative votes to spare. The 39th Knesset majority has gone down in history as one of the most ambitious and ideological. It would fall apart in the aftermath of the Hillel scandal as well as from the actions of his presidential successor, the youthful Independent Ariel Halevi, who wanted to pursue a more centrist direction upon assuming office, precipitating the Whirlwind Knesset of 2002.

The next composition of the 39th session of Knesset was be:

Knesset Years Knesset President Governing Majority Party Margin of Majority Control
RCP CLP TA GP YLP NUP YCA Ind. Vacan
cies
39th 2000-2002 41 71 12 2 2 4 3 7 0 Noar Hillel Gold-Silver-Pale-Green-Oceanic-White coalition +42

See also