Guide to the Israeli Electoral System


Jerusalem, April 30 – Israel is moving closer to declaring national elections and its robust and firmly democratic election procedures will begin operating. As with similar democracies that share the same values, the will of the Israeli voters will be translated into the peaceful transfer of power to whomever wins the elections.

While no decision has yet been made, there is increasing speculation that a vote may be called for this summer or fall.

Israel uses the proportional representation electoral system, in which voters cast their ballot for a particular political party. The number of seats a party gets in the 120-member Knesset, Israel’s parliament, is in proportion to the number of votes it received in the election. Therefore, if a party takes 10 percent of the vote it gains 12 seats. There is a minimum threshold of two percent of the popular vote in order to gain Knesset seats.

Before the general election, each party draws up and publicizes a list of candidates in order of preference. The top names on the list are the ones who are elected.

By law, Knesset elections take place every four years, but early elections can be called by a majority vote of the Knesset or by presidential decree, usually on the recommendation of the prime minister.

All citizens 18 years and older are eligible to vote via secret ballot. Voters are given an envelope and enter a voting booth with a selection of ballot papers representing the different parties. The voter places the ballot paper of the party of his choice into the envelope, which is then deposited in the ballot box.

The elections are presided over by the Central Elections Committee, which is formed 60 days in advance of the voting and comprises representatives from political parties and is chaired by a Supreme Court judge.

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