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Israel Goes to the Polls

The Road to Elections for the Constituent Assembly, 1948–1949

Meir Chazan

Keywords: Ben-Gurion; Constituent Assembly; democracy; IDF; Mapai; Provisional Council; UN Resolution 181; War of Independence

Abstract

The Constituent Assembly elections on 25 January 1949 were a crucial step—governmentally, politically, and symbolically—in the transformation of Israel into a democracy in the spirit of the November 1947 UN partition plan resolution. The election campaign, conducted amid the battles of the War of Independence, focused on where the newly founded state should be heading, that is, whether the military conquests should continue or should be wound up. The American administration attempted to exert direct and indirect influence over the conduct and outcomes of the election campaign. Mapai, however, needed no outside assistance to impose its political dominance, much of which was based on the leadership of David Ben-Gurion. The successes on the battlefield assured Mapai’s electoral triumph among both civilians and soldiers, with the latter accounting for a significant portion of the electorate.

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