Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Yesh Atid Tel Aviv mayoral candidate Orna Barbivai cast her ballot but failed to beat the incumbent Huldai, February 27, 2024.

The polling stations for the municipal elections closed at 10:00 PM Tuesday, and the national turnout was about 49%, which is about 3.5 million voters. Back in 2018, turnout was 56%, but in 2018 half the country wasn’t in reserve duty. So, everything we report here could change once the soldiers’ votes are counted.

The voting percentages in the major municipalities: in Bnei Brak 61.5%, Ashdod 45.1%, Tel-Aviv-Jaffa 40%, Haifa 38.7%, and Jerusalem 30.8%.


Yesh Atid Chairman and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid should not have entered his candidate Orna Barbivai in the race for Mayor of Tel Aviv. This politician who alters his principled views twice a day based on the advice of his political consultants, for some reason, ignored the consultant’s advice in this one. He invested millions to reach a needless defeat at a time when his party was at an all-time low in all the polls. The loss was yet another blow for the former interim prime minister aspiring to someday become a real prime minister. Lapid managed to maintain his council seats in most of the central cities.

In Jerusalem, incumbent mayor Moshe Leon won the day without serious challengers, a rare feat in the capital’s municipal elections that usually feature several viable contenders. But the interesting changes took place in the city council election. It was a huge victory for the Haredi and Hardali (Haredi Zionists) parties. At this point, before the soldiers’ votes are counted, it appears that the Haredim have won 17 out of the 30 seats in the council; and Deputy Mayor Aryeh King’s union with the Noam Party won 3 seats, so, barring dramatic changes in the soldiers’ votes, 20 out of the 30 members of the Jerusalem City Council will be Haredi and religious right-wing. This could radically change the face of Jerusalem, or not, depending on the temperament and wisdom of the mayor.

In the Haredi city of Elad, after eight years of trying, Aryeh Deri’s Shas party candidate Yehuda Butbul defeated Mayor Israel Porush. The victory is meaningful only if you’re Haredi and care much about the power struggle between the Haredi Ashkenazim and Sephardim, and Deri was invested in winning Elad (population 50,000) as if it were Bnei Brak.

Haifa mayor Einat Kalish-Rotem won 4.5% in Tuesday’s election. The former mayor, Yona Lahav, is the presumed winner, although he may have to win a runoff election, with 36.2% of the votes, before the soldiers’ votes are counted. He will run against David Etzioni who won 22%. Israelis who don’t live in Haifa will tell you the mayor lost so catastrophically because of the wild pigs that she allowed to roam Haifa’s streets. Haifa residents would probably tell you the city is not prepared for the anticipated Hezbollah rocket onslaught. Haifa is dying slowly, with negative immigration of its young people. Can Mayor Lahav save it? Here’s hoping.

The incumbent mayor of Holon, Moti Sasson, lost after 30 years in office, receiving only 17.8% of the vote. City Council member Shay Keinan received 43.3%, and Moran Israel of the youth faction came in second place, with 27.2%. Sasson, 71, is a Labor member and has been facing criticism over the deterioration of the city’s infrastructures following the light rail works. There were also complaints about the state of rocket shelters.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir congratulated the presumed winner of the post of Mayor of Tzfat Yossi Kakon who is supported by the Otzma Yehudit faction. Ben Gvir said, “Yossi Kakon is the most worthy and rightful man for the city of Tzfat. Otzma Yehudit invests many resources in the Galilee, through Minister of the Negev and the Galilee Yitzhak Wasserlauf who works night and day for the residents of the Galilee, and I am happy about the success in Tzfat.”

The mayor of Ra’anana, Haim Broida, will continue for a second term in office, having won 45% of the vote. He defeated businessman Avi Yosef (26,6%), and council members Nir Kristal (19.3%) and Inbar Hochberg (9.8%).

A second round will take place in Beit Shemesh after none of the candidates received 40% of the votes. With 100% of the votes counted, excluding the soldiers’ votes, Shmuel Greenberg received 35.7%, Mayor Aliza Bloch won 32.4%, and Moshe Abutbul was third with 31.9%. The gap between Bloch and Abutbul is only about 275 votes, so it’s still unclear who will run against Greenberg in the second round.

Over in Efrat, incumbent mayor Oded Revivi didn’t reach the 40% threshold and a second round will be held against challenger and long-time councilman Dovi Sheffler, or possibly former Makor Rishon publisher Shlomo Ben-Tzvi, in case the soldiers give him a few more votes, once the counting is complete.

Report Amit Segal points out that all but one of the mayoral candidates representing the anti-Netanyahu Kaplanistim protest groups failed to get in, and that one is only still has a chance because of second round election.


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