Election Chronicles > Elections > 1984 Elections

1984 Elections

 

Elections for the eleventh Knesset were held on July 23, 1984. They had been brought forward by over a year; the original scheduled date was November 5, 1985. Encouraged by relative success in the local elections that had been held in October 1983, the Labor party under Shimon Peres sought to bring about early elections. The economic situation was bad: there had been a series of banking crises and the stock market had crashed. The currency faltered and the stepping down of charismatic Likud leader Menachem Begin led the main opposition party, the Ma'arach, to believe that it had a real chance of returning to power. The Likud, in turn, was also interested in ending the Knesset's term of office.
 
In March 1984 the Knesset voted on a proposal to bring forward the elections. Surprisingly, the Ma'arach succeeded in gathering parliamentary support for this initiative. The scales were tipped by MK Aharon Abuhatzera, the leader of the Tami party, a three member traditional-religious caucus interested in reducing ethnic inequities and having the Mizrahi communities represented in the Knesset. All members of the Knesset voted, and the proposal was passed by a margin of 2: 61 voted for and 59 against.
1984 Elections
 

 

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​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ 1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​

  

 

  

The Lebanon War
Public concern in 1984 revolved largely around the war in Lebanon, which had begun in June 1981. Though Israeli troops reached all the way to Beirut, the war had not changed the regional political picture in Israel's favor. The incursion into Lebanon was extremely costly in terms of casualties as well as economically. In 1982, Christian militias carried out a massacre in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. The massacre caused an outcry in Israel because the prevailing feeling was that the government and minister of defense had not done enough to prevent it from happening. Some even accused them of having orchestrated the horror. The Cohen Commission investigated the events leading up to the massacre and brought about Ariel Sharon's demotion from the position of minister of defense. In 1983 the IDF left the Shuf Mountains and withdrew to the Awali River. The Syrians returned to Beirut and on November 4, 1983 there was a suicide bombing in an administrative building in Tyre. Sixty people were killed, including soldiers, border policemen and members of the GSS. Israeli public opposition to continued presence in Lebanon grew and there were serious doubts as to Israeli involvement in the Lebanese civil war. The Lebanon war was of enormous concern to the Israeli public and remained among the most complex of problems that needed to be resolved..
 
The Lebanon War
Economic crisis
In the period preceding the 1984 elections, the State of Israel was in the midst of a severe crisis. The economy suffered from hyper-inflation and the government lost control of prices. The national debt was immense and the country's foreign currency reserves dwindled. At the same time, the country's external debt reached 200% of the GDP. The cycle of minting money exacerbated the problem beyond relief. In addition, the government undertook prohibitive economic commitments: state stipends went up and the prolonged war in Lebanon was extremely costly. On top of this, bank stock crashed in 1983 and in order to prevent the banking system from collapsing, the government decided to nationalize the banks. The public was forced to absorb a significant blow to the value of its savings. Citizens lost faith in the local currency and the economy began to become dependent on the US dollar. The crisis persisted into 1984: the shekel devalued rapidly and lost some three quarters of its value in the course of that year. The devaluation of the Shekel caused rising prices of imported goods and further exacerbated rising inflation. It was only the national unity government that resulted from an election tie between the Likud and the Ma'arach that resulted in a solution to the problem. .​ Economic crisis
Establishment of Shas
A new party emerged in advance of the elections for the eleventh Knesset: Shas. The party was established by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, in response to his disappointment at not being able to extend his term as chief Sephardi rabbi. Party activists were ultra-Orthodox eastern Jews, who had not found their place in the veteran Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox parties. They were joined by Mizrahi activists who had previously been involved in Aharon Abuhatzera's Tami party.
Raising of the ethnic flag in the political arena was nothing new. Ethnic parties had existed and been active before and since the establishment of the state. Some of them had been elected to the Knesset: the Yemenite Union, the Sefardim vatikim, and others. It soon became clear that Shas was a different story, however. On the one hand its leadership sought to advance the status of Mizrahi Jews in the Ashkenazi yeshiva world, where they felt rejected and discriminated against. On the other hand, the party sought to advance traditional national-religious Mizrahi Jews. For the first time, a party had emerged that appealed to the entire spectrum of Mizrahi Jews in Israel.
Establishment of Shas
 

 

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All Elections
​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ 1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​

  

 

 

Disaqualification of parties
From the establishment of the state, every party that wished to run for the Knesset was permitted to do so. In 1965 the Socialist Party sought to run for the Knesset. Its members included people from the El Arad organization which had been banned out of fear that it aimed to compromise state security. The Central Elections Committee refused to register the Socialist Party on the grounds that it was "an illegal organization whose founders negated the unity and very existence of the State of Israel." A Supreme Court discussion yielded the principle of defensive democracy, and the list was disqualified. 

 
Disaqualification of parties
Almost twenty years later, in 1984, the Central Elections Committee once again disqualified two lists: Meir Kahuna's Koch and the Progressive Party for Peace. Both lists appealed their disqualification and the Supreme Court permitted them to run in the elections. Both lists were successful in their bid. Meir Kahuna and his racist, anti-democratic opinions shocked the system. The law was subsequently amended and reasons for the disqualification of a list were extended and the procedure for appealing to the Supreme Court was formalized. Disaqualification of parties
 

 

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All Elections
​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ 1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​

  

 

  

Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Shamir (1915-2012) was born in Poland. He was active in the Beitar youth movement and moved to Palestine in 1935. There he joined the Etzel and later founded the Lehi along with Avraham Stern. Shamir was arrested by the British in 1941 and escaped in 1942. In 1946 he was arrested again and deported to Eritrea. Once again, he escaped and made his way to France. From there, he returned to Palestine and activity in the Lehi, including involvement in the assassination of UN emissary Bernadotte.  After becoming involved for some time with the Fighters' List, he abandoned politics and joined the Mossad. In 1973 he was elected to the Knesset as a representative of the Likud and in 1980 he was appointed foreign minister. With the resignation of Menachem Begin in 1983, he took over leadership of the Likud and served as prime minister until 1984. In 1984 he led the Likud in the elections and formed a national unity government with Shimon Peres, once again assuming the foreign affairs portfolio. Following the Likud's decimation in the 1992 elections, Shamir resigned as party leader. Yitzhak Shamir died on June 20, 2012.012.
Yitzhak Shamir ​
 

 

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All Elections
​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ 1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​

  

 

 

The "Has Mas" party
Televised propaganda played an important role in the 1984 elections. Each list received airtime on the state channel, based on their size. The new lists received a standard minimum. This arrangement spurred the formation of many small lists, eager to seize the opportunity to publicize their ideas. One of these was Has Mas, Yaakov Berger's one man party. Berger, who advocated the abolition of income tax, became known as the "lone runner".
 
In time, it was claimed that Yaakov Berger had meant to establish a satellite party to Ezer Weizmann's Yachad, and pass on the 10 minutes of airtime he was given. The arrangement was disqualified and Berger set up his party alone, using his airtime to preach abolition of income tax. His announcements included long seconds of visuals of a Bank Leumi cheque. He claimed that the inclusion of this subliminal advertising was done in exchange for the bank expunging his personal debt. Has Mas received 1,472 votes. 
The "Has Mas" party
 

 

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All Elections
​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ 1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​