Elections in Israel: Wikis

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Israel

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Politics and government of
Israel



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A United Torah Judaism ballot letter from the 2006 election.
A divider in which the Israeli voter cast his ballot paper
ballot papers

Israel elects its national legislature, the Knesset, by proportional representation on a national list basis. The Knesset has 120 members, elected for terms of four years. However, most of the elections in the country's history were not held on their scheduled date but after less than 4 years (only one of the last 8 Knesset assemblies completed its full term). Early elections can be called by a vote of the majority of Knesset members, or by an edict of the President, and normally occur on occasions of political stalemate and inability of the government to get the parliament's support for its policy. Failure to get the annual budget bill approved by the Knesset by March 31 (3 months after the start of the fiscal year) also leads automatically to early elections.

The Israeli electoral system has an electoral threshold of 2%, making it more favourable to minor parties than systems used in other countries. Israel has a multi-party system and generally no one party is able to form a government, requiring the parties to form coalition governments. In 1992, Israel adopted a system of direct election of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister was directly elected separately from the Knesset in 1996, 1999 and 2001. The direct election of the Prime Minister was abandoned after the 2001 election, because it failed to produce more stable governments (the 2001 elections were held less than 2 years after the previous one), and led to further fragmentation of the parliament.

Israel also has a President, but his or her role is essentially a figurehead position, with the real governmental power being in the hands of the Prime Minister.

Every Israeli of age 18 or greater may vote in elections. Any Israeli citizen over 21 may be elected to the Knesset, except holders of several high positions in the civil service and officers or career soldiers (those should resign from their post before the elections), soldiers in compulsory service, and felons who were convicted and sentenced to prison terms exceeding 3 months (until 7 years after their prison term expired).

Elections are overseen by the Central Elections Committee and are held according to the Knesset Elections Law.

Contents

Voting method

Whilst most countries operating a manual (i.e. paper) voting system use a sheet on which a voter either marks a box for one candidate, or ranks them by number, Israel has a rather unusual balloting method. Upon entry to a polling station, the voter is given an official envelope, and shown to a voting booth. Inside the booth is a tray of ballot papers, one for each party. The voter chooses the relevant paper for their party, puts it in the envelope, seals it, and then places the envelope into the ballot box.

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Ballot letters

The ballot papers contain minimal information - they are dominated by the "ballot letter(s)" of the party (between one and three letters), with the party name and sometimes a slogan written underneath in small text (see the picture to the right). Each party publicises their letter prior to election day, with most election posters featuring them. As many political parties in Israel are known by their acronyms, several parties can spell out their name in two or three letter, and thus use their name as their ballot letters (e.g. Meretz and Hetz). Others spell out a specific phrase on their ballot.

The system has the advantage of being incredibly simple to use for those with limited literacy. This is especially important in Israel where many new immigrants struggle with the language, especially reading and writing (as Hebrew uses a unique alphabet), and there are also relatively high illiteracy rates amongst the Bedouin.

Current ballot letters

The following (Hebrew) ballot letters were used in the 2009 election:

Party Ballot
letters
Notes Party Ballot
letters
Notes
Ahrayut
נפ
Lehem
נר
Ale Yarok
קנ
First two letters of Cannabis Lev LaOlim
ינ
Balad
ד
Likud
מחל
Brit Olam
פי
Man's Rights in the Family Party
פק
Da'am
ק
New Movement-Meretz
מרצ
Party name
Gil
זך
"Pure" National Union
ט
Green Movement-Meimad
ה
Or
אר
(The first and last letters of the party name)
Green Party
רק
"Only" Shas
שס
Party name
Hadash
ו
The Jewish Home
ב
HaYisraelim
ים
Tzabar
צי
Holocaust survivors & Ale Yarok Alumni
יק
Tzomet
ץ
Kadima
כן
"Yes" United Arab List-Ta'al
עם
"People"/"Nation"
Koah HaKesef
קפ
United Torah Judaism
ג
Koah LeHashpi'a
פ
Yisrael Beiteinu
ל
L for Lieberman
Labour
אמת
"Truth" Yisrael HaMithadeshet
נ
N for Nudelman
LaZuz
נץ
Yisrael Hazaka
חי
"Alive"
Leader
קץ

Latest elections

e • d  Summary of the 10 February 2009 Israeli Knesset election results
Party Votes % Seats +/–
Kadima 758,032 22.47% 28 −1
Likud 729,054 21.61% 27 +15
Yisrael Beiteinu 394,577 11.70% 15 +4
Labor Party 334,900 9.93% 13 –6
Shas 286,300 8.49% 11 –1
United Torah Judaism 147,954 4.39% 5 –1
United Arab ListTa'al 113,954 3.38% 4
National Union 112,570 3.34% 4 [A]
Hadash 112,130 3.32% 4 +1
New Movement-Meretz 99,611 2.95% 3 –2
The Jewish Home 96,765 2.87% 3 [B]
Balad 83,739 2.48% 3
The Green MovementMeimad 27,737 0.82% –1
Gil 17,571 0.52% –7
Ale Yarok 13,132 0.39%
The Greens 12,378 0.37%
Yisrael Hazaka 6,722 0.20%
Tzabar 4,752 0.14%
Koah LeHashpi'a 3,696 0.11%
Da'am Workers Party 2,645 0.08%
Yisrael HaMithadeshet 2,572 0.08%
Holocaust Survivors and Ale Yarok Alumni 2,346 0.07%
Leader 1,887 0.06%
Tzomet 1,520 0.05% –1
Koah HaKesef 1,008 0.03%
Man's Rights in the Family Party 921 0.03%
HaYisraelim 856 0.03%
Or 815 0.02%
Ahrayut 802 0.02%
Brit Olam 678 0.02%
Lev LaOlim 632 0.02%
Lazuz 623 0.02%
Lehem 611 0.02%
Valid votes 3,373,490 98.74%
Invalid or blank votes 43,097 1.26%
Totals 3,416,587 100.00% 120
Turnout  %
Source: Knesset Board of Elections
A The four parties making up National Union had six seats in the previous elections in the combined National Union−National Religious Party slate. The Ahi party (2 seats) left the National Union and joined the Likud.
B The Jewish Home (formerly the National Religious Party) had three seats in the combined National Union−National Religious Party slate. The two parties together won 7 seats in this election for a net loss of 2.

Past elections

See also

External links


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