On the 9th April 2019 Israel goes to the polls! Up for grabs are the 120 seats in the Knesset and the opportunity for the winning party to form a government. Here’s our guide to the main parties and their star players…

March 2015 Election Results

In the last election Likud (led by Benjamin Netanyahu) won the most seats, and formed a right wing coalition (all the shades of blue in the graph above, including the two religious parties Shas and United Torah Judaism), plus centrist Kulanu (led by Moshe Kahlon, formerly a Likud minister).

The coalition had a total of 67 seats. In November 2018 Yisrael Beiteinu (led by Avigdor Lieberman) resigned from the coalition, reducing the government to only 61 seats. Although this is still a majority, an election has been called for April 9th 2019.

2019 Election – How it works

On Tuesday 9th of April 2019 the Israeli electorate goes to vote – and it’s a day off in Israel! Here’s some more cool facts about the election:

  • There are a record 47 parties competing. Voters vote for parties, not individuals.
  • Parties are competing for 120 Knesset seats. The number of seats a party wins is determined by how many votes it receives – this system is called Proportional Representation. In theory, if a party wins 50% of the vote, they get 50% of the seats (60 seats).
  • There is a Minimum Threshold of 3.25% that parties need to win in the vote in order to get seats. So even if a party wins 3% of the vote they don’t get any seats. This is why a lot of smaller parties have teamed up before the election.
  • No party has ever won 50% of the vote, so after the election parties team up to create a coalition government. The winning party is asked by President Rivlin if they can team up with other parties to create a bloc that holds over 50% of the seats (61 seats).
  • It is not always the case that the winning party can create a government – in 2009 Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party won the most votes but was unable to build a coalition, so the second place Likud party created a right-wing coalition with Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister.

A Bit of History

  • The first election was held on the 25th January 1949. After a few weeks of negotiations, the first government of the modern-day State of Israel was formed on the 10th March 1949, led by David Ben Gurion.
  • The left wing Labour Party was in government for the first 28 years by creating coalitions with smaller left-wing parties, until 1977. Prime ministers during this period include David Ben Gurion (1949-1963), Levi Eshkol (1963-1969), Golda Meir (1969-1974), and Yitzak Rabin (1974-1977).
  • Since 1977 the government has been changing hands between coalitions led by the left wing Labour, and right wing Likud Party. Likud has been in power 30 out of the last 40 years, including a Benjamin Netenyahu government for the last ten years.

The Main Players in the Election

Polls are useless, and barely predict the correct result. However they do give a good basis to understand the main opportunities for coalitions. This is one of the latest polls for this election, from Midgam/iPanel/Yediot Ahronot on 24th Feb 2019.

Meet the candidates! Check out these meetups over the next few weeks.

The Main Players

LIKUD (מחל)

Led by Benjamin Netanyahu | CENTER RIGHT | website in English | Facebook


Led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid | CENTER

The Right


Led by Naftali Bennett | RIGHT | website | Facebook


Led by Avigdor Leiberman | RIGHT | website | Facebook


Led by Rafi Peretz | FAR RIGHT | website

The Left

LABOUR (אמת)

Led by Avi Gabai| LEFT | website | Facebook

MERETZ (מרצ)

Led by Tamar Zandberg | LEFT | website | Facebook

The Center


Led by Moshe Kahlon | CENTER | website | Facebook


Led by Orly-Levy Abekasis | CENTER | website | Facebook

The Religious Parties


Led by Rabbai Litzman| RELIGIOUS/ RIGHT

SHAS (שס)

Led by Arye Dery| RELIGIOUS/ RIGHT

The Arab Parties


Led by TBD | ARAB


Led by Ayman Odeh | ARAB

Meet the candidates! Check out these meetups over the next few weeks.

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