If you’re curious about the politics of the places you visit – this post is for you. This year’s elections in Israel are very special, since they are happening twice in a year, with a gap of about 5 months between each other. Usually, elections happen once in two-three years. Formally, they need to take place once in four years. So… Why will we Israelis need to vote again after only 5 months? Here’s all you need to know about the 2019 elections:

Elections in Israel in General:

Before we begin talking about the Israeli elections of 2019, let’s go over the elections in Israel in general. During the elections, we vote for a political party to the Knesset, which is the Israeli parliament. It is in charge of passing laws, electing the President and the Prime Minister (who is usually the head of the party that got the most votes), approving the cabinet and supervising the work of the government. There are 120 representatives in the Knesset. In order to get one seat in the Knesset, a party has to get a certain amount of votes, which is determined beforehand. The more votes, the more seats for that party. It’s a bit more complicated than that, with percentages and all, but you get it, right?

So we aren’t voting for a specific person. We’re voting for a political party. That party makes a list of its representatives. The higher the person is on the list, the more chances that he or she would enter the Knesset.

To vote you must be at least 18 years old. The voting is done democratically. We can vote only once, behind a buffer that provides privacy to each voter. Usually, there’s also a holiday on the elections day, which is meant to bring more people to vote. In reality, many people prefer to go out with their families and forget about the elections.

After the votes are counted, there are 120 Knesset members. Then, the President needs to decide to whom will he give the charter to establish a government. The Knesset members will go one by one to the President and recommend who they think can establish a government. Usually, the President selects the most recommended candidate.

Then, the selected candidate, who is usually the head of the largest political party, has 28 days to establish a government. If needed, the President can give a bit more time, but no longer than 14 additional days. To establish a government, the candidate needs to get support from at least 61 Knesset members. The rest, who will not support him, will become the parliamentary opposition. If the candidate succeeds, he or she will later choose which government member will be a minister and in which office will that member serve.

If the candidate fails to establish a government, he or she needs to return their charter to the President, who can give the opportunity to another candidate or can decide to go back to elections.

This is how the voting booth looks from within. The pic was taken by Hanay (from Wikipedia).

So What Happened in 2019?

In the elections of April 2019 there were two major parties and a lot of smaller parties. Benjamin Netanyahu, who is leading the Likud right-wing party, has been the Prime Minister for the last 10 years. He won the April 2019 elections as well. The President gave him over 28 days to establish a government, but he was unable to do so. Though, instead of passing the charter back to the President, he decided to do something that has never been done before in the history of the Israeli Knesset. He got enough of the Knesset members to vote for the dissolution of the Knesset.

Now, there are going to be new elections on 17 September 2019. Let’s see who will win this time, and if they will be able to establish a government.

Who Are the Main Players of The Upcoming Elections?

Currently, the two leading parties in the surveys are the Likud and Kakhol-Lavan, who were also the leading parties in the elections of April 2019. As I already mentioned, the right-wing Likud is led by Benjamin Netanyahu. Kakhol-Lavan is percieved as a left-wing party, though I think they are a center party. Kakhol-Lavan is led by the former IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, and the former head of the Yesh Hatid party, Yair Lapid.

Another name that caught the headlines in connection to the elections is Avigdor Lieberman, who is the head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Benjamin Netanyahu accused him of leading Israel to new elections, since Lieberman refused to join Netanyahu’s government. Lieberman claimed that he did not join the government, because Netanyahu did not accept his party’s demands during the negotiation.

Of course, there are more parties running for elections, but those are the main players, at least in my view.


Did I forget anything important? Feel free to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com and update me.

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Yours,

Lior