December 31, 1973
The Eighth Knesset Elections were originally scheduled to be held on October 30, 1973. On October 6, 1973, war broke out after Israel was attacked by Egypt and Syria. The outbreak of the war caused Israeli political leaders to consider postponing the elections. On October 8, all parties running in the election agreed to suspend campaigning in an effort to present a unified political front during the War. On October 25, the Knesset voted to move the elections to December 31. As a result of the elections postponement, the Knesset also decided that the Eighth Knesset would serve two months less than a full year term in order for the 1977 elections to be held at the end of October.
Two issues dominated the renewed election when campaigning resumed on December 8; the economy and terrorism. Israeli’s economy had grown tremendously following its victory in June 1967 Six Day War. That growth and a series of labor strikes had led to large scale wage increases in many sectors of the economy. Wage increases and the increased demand for capital caused inflation and a rise in prices, leading to economic instability. Even before Israel was caught by surprise on October 6th, terrorism had been on a steady rise since 1970 with several highly publicized attacks, including the massacre of eleven Israelis at the Munich Olympics in September 1972 (see: https://israeled.org/israel-olympics-munich-1972/). Defense Minister Moshe Dayan had even threatened to leave the Alignment if a West Bank State was to be established as he felt it would become dominated by the various terrorist groups that threatened Israel.
Despite the shaken confidence in the Alignment by the Israeli public as a result of these issues and the unpreparedness of the country in the early moments in the war, the Alignment remained the largest party in the Knesset receiving 39.6% of the vote. Despite the victory, Prime Minister Golda Meir, suffering from cancer at the time of the election, would ultimately resign over public backlash from the war (see: https://israeled.org/golda-meir-resigns-prime-minister/) on April 10, 1974. In the subsequent election held on May 17, 1977, Likud would supplant as the leading Party in the Knesset and Menachem begin would become Prime Minister.
Photo Credit: Soldiers still serving on the West Bank of the Suez Canal following the October 1973 Yom Kippur War line up to vote at a polling station.