5 Burning Questions for the 2019 Israeli Elections

2 min read
Yonatan Engler
Yonatan Engler

With the Israeli general elections coming up soon, here’s everything you need to know.

1. Why are there so many political parties?

Israeli society is very diverse, and the political parties represent all the different ideological, ethnic, and religious populations. Israel also allows representation in the Knesset to any party which clears the 3.25-percent threshold in the elections.

The advantage of this is that minorities in Israel are adequately represented in the Knesset (the parliament). However, representation comes at a price in terms of political stability, since larger parties must negotiate with a number of smaller parties to form a coalition government, which could cause a conflict of interest down the line.

2. How do you build a coalition?

In Israel, the president appoints a member of the Knesset to try to form a majority coalition (at least 61 out of the 120 mandates). The president usually appoints the leader of the party with the most votes, although it’s not mandatory. The leader of the party then joins with other political parties to create a majority government.

3. What are the main parties?

We’ve broken the list down for you based on the political spectrum:

  • Left: Raam-balad, Hadash Taal, Meretz
  • Center-Left: Haavoda, Kahol-Lavan, Gesher
  • Center-Right: Likud, Yisrael Beitenu, Kulanu, Yehadut Hatorah,
  • Right: Yemin Hachadash, Shas, Zehut, Ichud Miflagot Heymin

4. How do Israeli politics affect my life?

We all know politicians have a direct influence on our daily lives, and here’s why it’s important for you to get involved:

  1. Expense of living, or in Hebrew: יוקר המחייה (yoh-ker hah-meech-yah). Politics play a huge role in the economy, imports and exports, taxes, real estate, et cetera.
  2. Breaking up large monopolies to allow small businesses to succeed. Currently the media, telecommunications, dairy products, and other industries are controlled by a few large corporations. This allows them to control prices and market supply, which isn’t always in the people’s best interest.
  3. Role of religion in day-to-day life. There are a number of topics constantly being discussed in Israeli society regarding the role of religion in society. For example, businesses are not allowed to open on שבת (Saturday), and the חרדי (orthodox) population isn’t required to complete the obligatory national service.

5. What are the criminal charges against Netanyahu, and how will they affect the elections?

There are three criminal accounts against Bibi for corruption and bribery.

In the first case, known as Case 1000, Netanyahu is charged with receiving bribes. Netanyahu allegedly received gifts from overseas billionaires totaling 1 million shekels, including cigars, champagne, jewelry and more. In exchange for the gifts, investigators say Netanyahu tried to advance a tax break which would have benefited the businessmen.

In Case 2000, Netanyahu allegedly requested more favorable coverage from the media company Yedioth Ahronoth, in exchange for limiting circulation of their top rival Israel HaYom.

In the third case, known as Case 4000, Netanyahu faces charges of receiving bribery of 1 billion shekels from Walla News in exchange for favorable media coverage. While Bibi received the bribes, he was serving as Prime Minister and as the minister of communications.

The elections will take place Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

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