Israel election 2019: 6.4 million voters to decide fate of 31 candidates on 17 September as Benjamin Netanyahu fails to form coalition govt

  • Israel will hold general elections on Tuesday, second vote this year after prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form coalition government

  • Israel's system of proportional representation allows small parties a chance of winning seats in the 120-member Knesset

  • The plethora of parties means that no faction has ever won an outright Knesset majority of 61 seats or more

Jerusalem: Israel will hold general elections on Tuesday (17 September) its second vote this year after prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government following the 9 April poll.

Dozens of parties

Israel's system of proportional representation allows small parties a chance of winning seats in the 120-member Knesset, Israel's parliament. There is however a barrier to the very smallest, as a party must win at least 3.25 percent of total votes cast to enter the legislature. This pushes political minnows into tactical alliances that give them a better chance of passing the threshold.

In this election, 31 alliances or individual parties are competing for the favour of just over 6.4 million eligible voters, according to the central elections committee. Israeli citizens aged 18 and over can vote. Turnout in the April poll was 67.9 percent.

Each contending party or faction lists its candidates in order of precedence, decided either in party primaries or by an internal committee. The number of seats allocated to each list is calculated according to the percentage of votes won. For example, if a party or alliance wins 10 percent of the vote, equivalent to 12 Knesset seats, the first 12 candidates on its list become lawmakers.

Coalition-building

The plethora of parties means that no faction has ever won an outright Knesset majority of 61 seats or more. This means that after the votes are counted, the horse-trading begins, with larger parties or alliances wooing the smaller groups in an attempt to build a working coalition.

 Israel election 2019: 6.4 million voters to decide fate of 31 candidates on 17 September as Benjamin Netanyahu fails to form coalition govt

File image of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. AP

The president of Israel, currently Reuven Rivlin, is tasked with quizzing all parties after the results are declared to hear who they recommend to try and form a government. On the basis of those talks, he asks the person he judges has the best chance of doing so, not necessarily the leader of the largest party.

In 2009, the centrist Kadima party won the most seats but was unable to put together a ruling coalition. The task went to Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud, which had won a single seat less than Kadima but was able to put together a coalition.

Netanyahu, who had previously been premier between 1996 and 1999, retained power in 2013 and 2015 elections. After failing to form a coalition following the April 2019 vote, he passed a law to dissolve parliament and hold new elections, remaining prime minister in the interim.

Updated Date: Sep 15, 2019 11:41:09 IST