The Electoral System in Israel

Publié le par JSS

Israel has an electoral system based on nation-wide proportional representation, and the number of seats which every list receives in the Knesset is proportional to the number of voters who voted for it. The only limitation is the 2% qualifying threshold. In other words, a party must receive at least 2% of the votes in order to be elected. According to this system, the voters vote for a party list, and not for a particular person on the list. Since the institution of the primaries system in some of the parties, these parties directly elect their candidates for the Knesset. Some of the parties elect their candidates via the party's institutions. In the ultra-religious parties their spiritual leaders appoint the candidates. The Knesset elections take place once every four years, but the Knesset or the Prime Minister can decide to hold early elections, and under certain circumstances can serve for more than four years.

The Electoral System

Israel has an electoral system based on nation-wide proportional representation. In other words, the number of seats that each list receives in the Knesset - the House of Representatives - is proportional to the number of votes it received. Unlike most of the Western parliamentary democracies, the system in Israel is followed in an extreme manner, and the only limitation on a list which participated in the elections being elected is that it should pass the qualifying threshold, which is currently 2%. (Until the elections to the 13th Knesset the qualifying threshold was only 1%. During the 16th Knesset, the law changed the threshold from 1.5% to 2%.).

The Principles Upon Which the Electoral System is Based

The general framework for the elections was laid down in article 4 of the Basic Law: The Knesset, and according to it the Knesset is to be elected in general, country-wide, direct, equal, secret and proportional elections. This article can only be amended by a vote of a majority of the Knesset members.

The principle of the generality of the elections ensures the active right of every Israeli citizen, who is at least 18 years old, to vote and the right of every Israeli citizen, who is at least 21 years old, to be elected. Even though the Basic Law: The Knesset gave the legislator the power to deny the right to vote to anyone as it may see fit, the Knesset has never made use of this power. Those holding certain official positions, such as the President, the State Comptroller, judges or dayanim, career officers, and senior civil servants, may not stand for election to the Knesset. However they can contend if they resign from their post 100 days or 6 months before the elections, depending on the public position, as the law specifies.

The principle of country-wide elections states that Israel is a single electoral district insofar as the distribution of Knesset seats is concerned. Direct elections mean that the voter elects the Knesset directly, rather than an electoral college (as is the case in the election of the President in the United States). Equal elections apply to equality amongst the votes given, and theSupreme Court laid down that the principle of equality relates to equality of opportunities for all the lists participating in the elections as well.

The principle of secrecy ensures fairness in the elections and aspires to prevent the placing of effective pressure on voters, since no one has any way of knowing how they actually voted. The principle of proportionality manifests itself in that all the lists, which get past the qualifying threshold, are represented in the Knesset by a number of members which is proportional to their electoral strength.

The Frequency of Elections
The Knesset elections are supposed to take place every four years. The Knesset can decide, by an ordinary majority, to dissolve itself and call for early elections. Under the direct vote for Prime Minister system, the Prime Minister could notify the President of early elections. After the abolishment of that system, the Prime Minister can recommend to the President to call for early elections, but the Knesset can block that initiative. The Knesset can also decide, by a special majority, to prolong its term beyond four years. This happened in the case of the elections to the 8 Knesset (1973) which were delayed because of the Yom Kippur War. In either case of delayed or early elections, the newly formed Knesset is meant to serve a full four-year term from the date of elections as determined by the law, regardless of the election date.

 
Who is Elected to the Knesset? The candidates of any given list are elected to the Knesset on the basis of the order in which they appear on it. If a certain party received sufficient votes for 10 seats, the first 10 candidates on its list will enter the Knesset. If a Knesset member passes away or resigns his seat in the Knesset for whatever reason, the next on the list will replace him/her.
(more information on : knesset.gov.il  /// Article bientôt traduit en français)
(Pictures : Knesset from outside and from inside)

Publié dans In English

Commenter cet article

Aurélien Royer 30/10/2008 22:32

Et bien, merci de la précision. Car c'est une chose que je ne savais pas...

Aurélien Royer 30/10/2008 18:26

Finalement, avec ce second article, je crois que je ne m'en sors pas trop mal pour comprendre un texte en anglais. Au moins en ai-je compris l'essentiel... grâce à un vocabulaire simple et des explications claires. Ce genre d'article est par ailleurs indispensable pour comprendre la vie politique d'un pays: comment comprendre, en tant que Français n'ayant jamais visité Israël, la réalité de la vie israélienne sans connaître son mode de scrutin ou le fonctionnement de sa constitution?... Bref, ton article m'éclaire un peu plus sur ce pays que je ne connais pas bien. Je cerne désormais mieux les enjeux des prochaines législatives.

JSS 30/10/2008 19:41


D'autant que le système israélien est plutôt compliqué...
Mais je l'ai dis, je vais essayer de traduire cela rapidement... Enfin, dès que je trouve un peu de temps...
Par ailleurs, si j'ai expliqué le mode de fonctionnement du scrutin, il est important de savoir qu'il N'Y A PAS DE CONSTITUTION en israel...
Cela pose un véritable casse-tête à l'élite politique depuis la création d'Israel.
Il y a une déclaration d'indépendance ainsi qu'un code de loi solide (dont certaines lois dates encore de l'époque de l'Empire Ottoman)... Mais le simple fait de définir "état juif" est très
compliqué... Et cela engagerais des batailles politiques et sociales sans fin...
Par exemple, est-ce parce que l'état est "juif" que TOUT doit être fermé à shabbat ?
Est-ce parce que l'état est juif que la démocratie actuelle doit se transformer en une monarchie parlementaire (dans la droite lignée du Roi David...)
L'homosexualité peut-être restée légale (voire même financée dans des endroits comme à Tel-Aviv) ?
Autant de questions qui empêches, pour l'instant en tout cas, la mise en place d'une constitution...