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Israel’s 2019 parliamentary elections: All you need to know about the Knesset

Israel’s parliamentary elections are scheduled for Tuesday, April 9 to elect members of the twenty-first Knesset after being brought forward from November 2019.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been in power for three consecutive terms since 2009 and also led Israel from 1996 to 1999, if he wins a record fifth term he will pass David Ben-Gurion as the longest-serving Israeli premier.

Netanyahu’s main challenger is retired, General Benny Gantz who leads the recently formed Blue and White alliance that currently has 11 seats in parliament versus Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party that has 30 seats.

Israeli election statistics

  • 120 parliamentary seats (Knesset)
  • 6.3 million registered voters
  • 3.25% votes to secure a Knesset seat

The main issues in Israeli elections

Israeli politics traditionally revolve around security, economics and the role of religion in government but the 2019 election is centred around Netanyahu who has ruled the Jewish state for the last decade.

Israel’s electoral system

The Knesset is the unicameral national legislature of Israel with 120 members and elections are held every four years with citizens voting for parties instead of candidates.

Political parties select their candidates using a closed list and seats are allocated using proportional representation. A party must secure at least 3.25% votes to secure a Knesset seat.

The party or coalition with the majority (61 seats) in the Knesset elects the prime minister and forms the next government.

Israel: A history of coalition governments

Every Israeli government has been a coalition no political party has ever won the 61 seats necessary for a majority; the closest being the 56 seats won by the Alignment in the 1969 elections.

The main contenders for Israel’s 2019 parliamentary elections

  • Likud party: Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Blue and White alliance: Benny Gantz
  • Yesh Atid party: Yair Lapid
  • The ‘New Right’: Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked
  • Labour party: Avi Gabbay
  • Zehut party: Moshe Feiglin

Israel's 20th parliament/Knesset (2015-2019)

Political partySeats+/-
Likud30+12
Zionist Union24+3
Joint List13+2
Yesh Atid11-8
Kulanu10New
The Jewish Home8-4
Shas7-4
Yisrael Beiteinu6-7
United Torah Judaism6-1
Meretz5-1
Total120--
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