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Elections in Israel

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

On March 23rd, the elections for the 24th Knesset will occur in Israel.

This time, it will be the 4th time in a row that the elections are taking place in the past two years: this is a precedent after the elected officials failed to form a steady government in the last three election campaigns. In this blog, we will give you some information about:

  • Basic terms in the election process in Israel

  • The uniqueness in this (4 in a row) election campaign. How did that happen?!

So, let’s start off with some important terms:

- Parliamentary democracy - דֵּמוֹקְרַטְיָה פָרלַמֶנטָרִית (democratia parlamentarit): The Israeli system of government. Parliamentary democracy is an indirect democratic system of government in which the people elect their representatives in the parliament (the legislative body) which according to their political and majority vote, appoints the government. - Knesset - כְּנֶסֶת: The Knesset is the legislative authority- הָרְשׁוּת הַמְּחוֹקֶקֶת (hareshut hamec'hokeket), and the House of Representatives of the State of Israel.

Since Israel is a parliamentary democracy, the citizens of the state elect their representatives in the Knesset and they are the ones who fund the government. - Electoral threshold - אָחוּז הַחֲסִימָה (ac'huz hac'hasima): In order to be represented in the Knesset, a list which takes part in the elections must pass the qualifying electoral threshold, which is currently 3.25% off the total votes. - Political party - מִפְלָגָה ( Miflaga): A party is a political movement that seeks to gain full or partial control of the government or parliamentary institutions. - Electoral lists - רְשִׁימוֹת (reshimot): In the Israeli election method: Citizens choose lists of different parties - miflagot - מִפְלָגוֹת. The list allows candidates to be selected on a group basis. Lists that have passed the Electoral threshold are given several seats in the Knesset in relation to their electoral power. - The Prime Minister of Israel רֹאשׁ הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה (Rosh hamemshala), is the head of government and chief executive of Israel.

In Israel, the President is the head of state. However, the President's powers are largely ceremonial, and the Prime Minister holds the executive power.

Ballot - קַלְפּי - kalpi

Dry facts:

- The legal voting age for Israeli citizens is 18. - There are 120 seats in the Knesset. The name of the Knesset and its number (120) originated in the "Great Knesset" - הַכְּנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה (haknesset hagdola) - the Assembly of the Elders of the People during the Persian period in Israel.

- Members of Knesset are not elected directly, but only as part of specific lists which participate in the general elections. - The Knesset is elected for a four-year term, although most governments have not served a full term and early elections are a frequent occurrence. - The Knesset and the Prime Minister can precede the elections with a special procedure. - Under certain circumstances, the Knesset may serve more than four years.

- Holders of certain positions, such as the President - נָשִׂיא (nasi), state comptroller, judges, army officers, and senior civil servants, may not be candidates for election.

The upcoming elections, and the reason for having 4 elections in a row:

The President is giving the task of assembling the government to one Knesset member who was recommended by most Knesset members (at least 61). If this member manages to form a majority of at least 61 (out of 120) Knesset members -חַבְרֵי כְּנֶסֶת (c'havrey Knesset), that will agree upon forming the government (consisting of different parties), he then becomes the Prime Minister and the government is now assembled. In the Twenty-first, and the Twenty-second Knesset elections, no Knesset member managed to form a majority to form the government, therefore, the Knesset reassembled and the elections are taking place once more. The reasons for these failures are basically political views. The parties are not ready to give up their principles, and there is a difficulty in cooperating between them.

There are 2 large parties that received the majority of the votes in the elections, but none of them was able to form a majority to build a government.

In the next election, citizens of the state will again be forced to vote, and this time there is hope that the distribution of votes will enable the formation of a government.

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