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Voter apathy expected to linger among Israeli Arabs

It's unlikely that the upcoming early elections will encourage disappointed Israeli Arabs to show en mass at the ballot boxes, though they are a political force to reckon with.
Women have their identities checked before voting for the parliamentary election at a polling station in the northern Israeli Arab town of Sakhnin January 22, 2013. Israelis voted on Tuesday in an election that is expected to hand hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a third term, opening the way for a showdown with Iran and bolstering opponents of Palestinian statehood. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR3CT0S
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Just moments after the exit polls were released for the elections to the 19th Knesset in January 2013, disappointed Knesset member Ahmad Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al-Mada joint list) declared that if the Arab citizens of Israel had used their voting rights, they could have generated a political turnabout and replaced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The voting rate among Israeli Arabs has declined gradually over the years, from 90% participation in 1955 to 75% in 1999. Later it reached a low of just 18% in the 2001 elections (for the prime minister's seat) following the events of October 2000, in which 13 Arabs were killed by police. This boycott reflected Israeli Arabs' disappointment with the overall political system, which they believed was responsible for the discrimination they faced. In the more recent elections, the Arab voting rate reached only 53-56%.

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