©2018 by MERCAZ Olami. Proudly created with

The Democratic System in Israel

The Israeli system of government is based on parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of government and leader of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the Knesset. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The political system of the State of Israel and its main principles are set out in 11 Basic Laws.

Israel's electoral system operates within the parameters of a Basic Law (The Knesset) and of the 1969 Knesset Elections Law.


The Knesset's 120 members are elected by secret ballot to 4-year terms, although the Knesset may decide to call for new elections before the end of the 4-year term, and a government can change without a general election; since the 1988 election, no Knesset has finished its 4-year term. 


General elections use closed lists: voters vote only for party lists and cannot affect the order of candidates within the lists. Since the 1992 Parties Law, only registered parties may stand. There are no separate electoral districts; all voters vote on the same party lists. Suffrage is universal among Israeli citizens aged 18 years or older, but voting is optional. Polling locations are open throughout Israel; absentee ballots are limited to diplomatic staff and the merchant marine. While each party attains one seat for 1 in 120 votes, there is a minimum threshold for parties to attain their first seat in an election. This requirement aimed to bar smaller parties from parliament but spurred some parties to join together simply to overcome the threshold. The low vote-threshold for entry into parliament, as well as the need for parties with small numbers of seats to form coalition governments, results in a highly fragmented political spectrum, with small parties exercising extensive power (relative to their electoral support) within coalitions.


The president selects the prime minister as the party leader most able to form a government, based on the number of parliament seats his or her coalition has won. After the president's selection, the prime minister has forty-five days to form a government. The Knesset collectively must approve the members of the cabinet. This electoral system makes it very difficult for any party to gain a working majority in the Knesset and thus governments generally form on the basis of coalitions. Due to the difficulties in holding coalitions together, elections often occur earlier than scheduled. The average life-span of an Israeli government is about two years. Over the years, the peace process, the role of religion in the state, and political scandals have caused coalitions to break apart or have produced early elections.



Thursday, February 21, was the final day to submit their lists to the Central Elections Committee. This website lists the most popular or interesting parties and lists the candidates in the realistic positions to enter the 21st Knesset. 


Are you trying to understand how the votes become mandates?

check out this PDF explaining it: