U.S. Edition
 COUNTRY State of Israel
 ELECTION TYPE  Parliamentary
 DATE  March 28, 2006
At stake in this election:
  • 120 seats in the Knesset
Description of government structure:
  • Chief of State: President Moshe KATZAV
  • Head of Government: Prime Minister (Acting) Ehud OLMERT *
  • Assembly: Israel has a unicameral Knesset with 120 seats.

* Ehud OLMERT became Acting Prime Minister after Prime Minister Ariel SHARON suffered a serious stroke in January 2006.

Description of electoral system:

  • The President is elected by the Knesset to serve a 7-year term.
  • In the Knesset, 120 members are elected through a party-list proportional representation system to serve 4-year terms.
Main parties in the electoral race:
  • Party: Kadima*
    Leader: Ehud OLMERT
    Seats won in last election: N/A

  • Party: Likud
    Leader: Benjamin NETANYAHU
    Seats won in last election: 38

  • Party: Labor-Meimad
    Leader: Amir PERETZ
    Seats won in last election: 19

  • Party: Shinui
    Leader: Ron LEVINTAL
    Seats won in last election: 15

  • Party: Meretz
    Leader: Yossi BEILIN
    Seats won in last election: 6

  • Party: Shas
    Leader: Eliyahu YISHAI
    Seats won in last election: 11

  • Party: Da-am - Workers' Party
    Leader: Asama AGVARIA
    Seats won in last election: N/A

  • Party: United Arab List - Arab Renewal
    Leader: Ibrahim TZARTZUR
    Seats won in last election: 2

  • Party: Torah Judaism
    Leader: Yakov LITZMAN
    Seats won in last election: 5

  • Party: Hadash
    Leader: Mohammad BARAKE
    Seats won in last election: 3

  • Party: National Democratic Assembly
    Leader: Azmi BISHARA
    Seats won in last election: 3

* Kadima Party was formed in November 2005.

When was the last parliamentary election?
  • The last parliamentary election was held on January 28, 2003.
Population and number of registered voters:
  • Population: 6,276,883* (July 2005 est.)
  • Number of registered voters: 5,014,622 (March 2006 est.)

* This figure includes about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, more than 5,000 in the Gaza Strip, and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem.

Of Interest:
  • The entire country is considered one electoral district. A threshold of 2% of total votes cast is required for any party to win a seat in the Knesset.
  • The parliamentary poll was called 8 months earlier following the decision of Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, to leave his Likud party and form the more centrist Kadima party. The poll had been initially set for November 2006.
  • Following the elections, the president will assign a prime minister from the new Knesset members and task him/her to form a government. Traditionally, the prime minister is the leader of the largest party. The direct election of the prime minister, instituted in Israel in 1996, was abolished in 2001.
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