Who Do I Vote For? Your English Guide to the 2019 Israeli Elections


So, you're an Israeli citizen now (Mazelzzz) and you finally get the chance to vote. Yay democracy! However, you have no idea how the Israeli election system works. Not to worry! I've got you. Here are some resources (in English!) to help guide you to participating in the only democracy in the Middle East!

Why am i not voting for a person? NO. In Israel we vote for parties, not candidates. Each political party has a list of members, and the percentage of votes they receive will determine how many people from their list will be in the Israeli parliament (called the Knesset). There are 120 seats in the Knesset.

Following an election, the President nominates a member of the Knesset to become Prime Minister after asking party leaders whom they support for the position. The nominee has 42 days to put together a viable coalition. A viable coalition is made up of at least 61 Members of Knesset. The remaining members of the Knesset who are not in the coalition function similarly to the minority party in the US House of Representatives or Senate.

It is important to understand how this electoral system works because you might not necessarily vote for the person you want to be Prime Minister. If it seems clear from polling and other indications that a given party leader will likely win the position of Prime Minister (as it has been in the last couple Israeli elections with Benjamin Netanyahu), you might instead choose to vote for a party to help them gain more seats in the Knesset to help them push their agendas forward.

Check out a great article explaining the Israeli government system here at My Jewish Learning.

There are too many parties. How do I know what their platforms are?

Stay calm. Yes, there are a ton of different parties (and seemingly new ones showing up daily), but you will be able to figure this out. I'll be covering different parties on my Instagram here, but you can also find great English info on all the parties at the Israeli Democracy Institute's website here.

Where do I vote?

Every citizen over the age of 18 is eligible to vote in the national elections. You will receive a card in the mail telling you where your polling place is. The card will be sent to the address on your Teudat Zeut (ID), so double check that you've updated your address with Misrad Hapanim.

You can also find your polling place at this website. You just fill in your Teudat Zeut number (ID number) and the date your ID was issued (which is written on your ID).

Note that there is both the address of where you are voting, which is your polling place, and your kalpi number. At each polling place there are different calpim, voting stations, and you will be assigned to one. I suggest taking your card with you, just in case, or writing down all your info.

When you arrive to the correct calpi, you will give them your Teudat Zeut and the polling clerk will keep it in exchange for a white envelope. You will take your white envelope behind a blue cardboard booth and find a bunch of different slips of white papers with Hebrew letters on them. Each of these slips represents a party, so make sure you know which symbol represents the party you want to vote for ahead of time. (There are posters in the polling place to tell you, but it is all in Hebrew!) Once you've put your chosen slip into the envelope and sealed it, you will drop it into a blue cardboard box near the clerk and he will return your Teudat Zeut. And that's it! You've participated in Israeli democracy!

This elections political parties

(All information is gathered from outside sources)

Miscellaneous Article Roundup

Here are some articles that I've read and found helpful in considering who to vote for. Maybe they'll be helpful for you as well! I try to read a variety of news outlets in order to get a diverse perspective (not just right or left).

Pre-Election

Post-Election


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© 2020 Amy Albertson

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