Governance & Politics
Upon forming a new government, normally after elections, the President consults with party groups in the Knesset and then assigns the task of forming a government to a Knesset member. The assignment must be fulfilled within seven days of publication of the election results. The assigned member of Parliament is given a period of 28 days to form a government. The President can extend this period with a maximum of another fourteen days. The Knesset must approve the composition of the government by simple majority.
The Knesset can pass a vote of no confidence in the government. This motion of no confidence consists of a request to the President to assign the task of forming a new government to a certain member of the Knesset, i.e. the Parliament recommends the successor to the Prime Minister who it has dismissed. If the Prime Minister ascertains that a majority of the Knesset opposes the Government and that the effective functioning of the Government is prevented as a result, he may, with the approval of the President, dissolve the Knesset and call new elections.
The position of prime minister is currently occupied by Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads a government consisting of the Likud party and a number extremist right-wing parties.
The Knesset has 120 seats and is elected in general elections once every four years. Until now, only twelve out of the twenty Knessets served its full four-year term. The fourth and seventeenth Knesset were especially short-lived, one year and nine months, and two years and eleven months respectively. The twenty parliaments which have been formed until this day, were made up of members belonging to between nine an fifteen different political groups.
In the 2015 elections, the Likud party won 30 seats, surpassing the 24 seats of the Zionists (an alliance made up of the Labour Party, led by Isaac Herzog, and Hatnuah, led by Tzipi Livni). The Arabic Joint List won 14 seats.
If the President is temporarily incapacitated, leaves office or is removed from office by a three-fourth majority in the Knesset, the Speaker of the Knesset temporarily acts as Interim President. This was the case in 2007, when the then President Moshe Katsav resigned after a sex scandal. The Speaker of the Knesset at the time, Dalia Itzik, acted as Interim President. Itzik was Israel’s first female President (for a period of six months). The current President, Reuven Rivlin, was elected in June 2014.
The districts are: Jerusalem, with no subdistricts, and a population of 924,100 and a population density of 1,484 people per square kilometre (all figures for the year 2009); Tel Aviv, with no subdistricts, and a population of 1.3 million, population density 7,522; Haifa, with two subdistricts (Haifa, Hadera) and a population of 898,400, population density 1,023; Northern district, with five subdistricts (Safed, Kinneret, Yizre’el, Akko, and the occupied Golan Heights) and a population of 1,257,200, population density 292; Central district, with four subdistricts (Sharon, Petah Tikva, Ramla, Rehovot) and a population of 1,814,300, population density 1,464; Southern district, with two subdistricts (Ashkelon, Beersheba) and a population of 1,084,200, population density of 79 people per square kilometre.
Until the 1980s, local politics were largely dominated by national political parties. However, local parties have since begun to develop. Since the 1980s, the number of local lists of candidates that are not linked to a national party has increased. According to the results of the 2003 local elections, candidates on the local lists received 52 percent of the votes, compared to 44 percent in 1998. The share of Labour (Avoda) and Likud, the two national ruling parties, in local elections dropped from 72.8 percent of the votes in 1965 to just 16 percent in the 2003 elections. The national parties’ influence in the appointment of candidates for mayor seems still considerable.