CMEP Bulletin: Election Fever Hits Israel, Hamas

CMEP Bulletin: Election Fever Hits Israel, Hamas

Weekly update on Israeli-Palestinian issues

Netanyahu Calls for Early Elections

This week rumors swirled about the possibility Benjamin Netanyahu will call for Israeli elections. Despite no official announcement or confirmation, all signs and sources indicate Israelis will go to the polls on September 4. The term of an Israeli prime minister is supposed to be four years but Israeli politics are as unpredictable as they are confusing. Here is a run down of the process so far and how it went during the last election in 2009:

  • Parties hold their own nationwide primaries to determine their leader. This step in the process is complete. On January 31, 2012, Netanyahu’s Likud party held their primary.The prime minister remained the head of the party, winning 76.8 percent of the vote. Kadima held its primary on March 27, 2012, resulting in a big loss for current opposition leader Tzipi Livni. Shaul Mofaz beat her 62-38.

These are the next steps…

  • National elections can then take place. Voters pick one party to vote for and every party that gets above 2 percent can get a seat in the Knesset. The proportion of the popular vote determines the number of seats each party receives. Israelis last voted in February 2009. 12 parties passed the threshold to get seats. Kadima won with 28 seats. Likud received 27.
  • The president picks the party leader most likely to get a 61-seat majority in the Knesset. He or she then has 42 days to finalize a coalition. For the first time in history, the Israeli president did not choose someone from the largest party. Shimon Peres saw that the right wing parties overall got more votes than the left leaning ones. Therefore, he chose Netanyahu to form a government.
  • The selected leader courts other smaller parties to convince them to join a coalition. The government’s cabinet must proportionally represent the number of seats each party in the coalition received; the leader can typically sway the smaller parties by promising them certain positions. In just over a month, Netanyahu convinced right-wing parties Yisrael Beiteniu and Shas as well as the left-center Labor party to join.
  • The Knesset votes to approve the government with a minimum of 61 votes needed. With his coalition’s support, Netanyahu reached 66 votes. His is the largest cabinet in history with 30 members.

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