The electoral system in Israel is based on proportional representation, which means the number of seats a party holds in the Knesset is equivalent to the number of votes that party received. The only requirement is that the party meets a 2% threshold. This electoral system was implemented by the yeshiva, the organized Jewish community before the founding of Israel. The electoral system is based upon the principles that the Knesset is elected in general, country-wide, direct, equal, secret and proportional elections.
The Knesset elections are scheduled to take place every four years. Although, the Knesset majority can decide to dissolve itself and call for early elections and the Prime Minister can recommend early elections to the President which has to be approved by the Knesset. Voters do not choose individuals to vote for, instead they vote for a list of candidates. The candidates on the list are elected in order of which they appear on the list, so if the party wins five seats, the first five individuals on the list earn the seat.
There are advantages to the Israeli model of an electoral system, like minority representation is ensured, coalitions of parties encourage compromise, and governments are forced to take into account national sentiments. However, disadvantages exist for the same reasons, proportional representation can lead to small parties gaining more power, and coalitions can produce confused policies and government inaction. Also, if unpopular policies are enacted under the Knesset the chances of a no confidence vote being taken that votes their members out of office increases.
The question of how to improve the Israeli electoral system has been a constant source of debate in recent discussions. A question that inspires complexity and frustrations, a feeling many Americans can relate too. Today the United States is widely accepted as a two party system because historically it has been very rare for a third party candidate to win the election. However, the United States had no official political parties when the constitution was written. Only ten years after the constitution was enacted did two major political parties emerged. Currently the Democratic and Republican parties dominate voting in nearly all elections and typically one of the two parties wins the majority of votes in legislature. Additionally, other political parties exist such as the green party, independent party, and the reform party, etc.
Increasing polarization of our nation due to the two party system has lead to a considerable amount of difficulty in accomplishing changes in a four year period. Leaving many Americans asking the same question, how do we improve a weak system? In conclusion, it seems there is no perfect structure of elections, or government for that matter; which does not mean we shouldn’t constantly be striving to improve and to be better for our countries and our world.
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