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Everything you need to know about Israel’s Upcoming Election 2013 (Except Who Will Win)

Binyamin Rose

Israel goes to the polls next week, in an election that’s being closely monitored around the world for its international repercussions. What are the issues, who are the front-runners, and why has Iran disappeared as a campaign issue?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

election suitWhy does a small country like Israel need so many political parties?

It dates back to the days of the yishuv under the British Mandate. Flooded with thousands of new immigrants from a vast array of lands and cultures,Israel’s founders designed a system to encourage broad political involvement and ensure that each and every sector felt as if they had a voice and someone to represent them. Even today, many Knesset members prefer to be the head of their own two- or three-man faction, rather than the tail of a party with 20 or 30 members. Sometimes, the head of a tiny party will have the votes a prime minister needs to enable him to put together a ruling coalition or pass important legislation, earning him a role as the Knesset’s power broker.

What are Israelis voting for?

All 120 Knesset seats are up for grabs. Thirty-four political parties have registered to run in the election. Each party selects its own slate of candidates, based either on the results of internal primary elections, or, in the case of the chareidi parties (and a few others), candidates are appointed by a supervisory panel of rabbanim or another authorized body.

Do people cast individual ballots for prime minister and Knesset members?

Israeldoes not have a system of direct elections. Voters select the party of their choice by selecting one paper chit printed with the party’s name or acronym and place that chit in an envelope before sealing it and dropping it in a ballot box. Voters must be careful not to pick up two chits, even of the same party, that got stuck together. When election officials open the envelopes to count the ballots at night after the polls close, they will invalidate a vote in an envelope containing more than one chit.


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