After two years, the Israeli coalition fell apart. In Israel, when the coalition falls apart, we have elections for the Knesset, our Parliament. There are supposed to be elections every four years, but since the beginning of the State, there seems to have been more times where we have early elections than having a government that stays in power for the full four years.
The Knesset has 120 members. This is the same number as the “Large Assembly” that governed Israel at the time of the Temples. It was called in Hebrew the Knesset Hagdola – which is where the name Knessset comes from.
Israel works on a coalition government system made up of political parties. A group of parties join together to form a coalition. In order for the coalition to work, it must have at least 61 members, a simple majority.
Every citizen over 18 can vote, including the Israeli Arabs. You vote for a party and then the number of people who voted is divided by 120. For every 1/120 of the voters, there is one Knesset seat. However, to avoid too many small parties, there is a minimum amount that a party needs to have to get seats, which equals around 2 seats. It changes from election to election.
Each party has a list of 120 people who will get into the Knesset according to their place in the list. If a party gets 20 seats, the first 20 get in. If they get 2, only the first 2 get in. So for each party there are a different amount of seats that have a chance to get in, depending on its popularity.
Once the seats are determined, the President, appoints the leader of the party with the best chance to form a coalition, usually the party with the most seats, to try and form a coalition. If he succeeds, we have a government. If not, the President can appoint someone else to try.
The president is a a more ceremonial position but he does have powers, including appointing who can form the government. He is voted into office by the Knesset every 7 years and can only serve one term.
Changes over time
For many years there were 2 main parties, one left wing and one right wing and smaller parties that incuded the religious parties and the Arab parties. The big parties would get 30-50 seats each leaving the formation of a coalition easier and the main power in the big parties.
Today there are major right wing and left wing parties but they get around 20-30 seats each and therefore the coalition is harder to form and the other parties have more power. That is one of the reasons that the government fell apart after 2 years.
The current coalition is more right wing.
It will be interesting to see what will happen after this election. Right now the candidates are spending more time putting down the other side than saying what they will do. But that is typical politics.
I'll keep you posted as the elections get closer.