Monday, October 21, 2013

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Israel City Election Primer

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

israel_elections_ballotsHere's our election primer for the city/local elections being held this Tuesday, October 22, 2013, in Israel.  All city mayors and city council positions are up for election on this day.

1. You should have received a postcard from the Israeli Election Authority in the mail in the last few weeks (white with purple print) for every voting age member of your household, assuming your current address is registered with the Ministry of the Interior.   This card states where your voting place is. 

2. Soldiers on duty are supposed to be given an option of voting on their base or leave to reach their home polling place. 

3. Note this is not a national election, so it is a normal work and school day (national election days are a national holiday) - though some schools have given their students off.

4. Polling places are open from 7:00 am until 10:00 pm nationwide.

5. At the polling place, bring your Teudat Zehut (Israeli identify card) to identify yourself.  After being identified, you will be given a BLUE official numbered envelope.  Entering the polling station you will find a box filled with little slips of paper.

6. The YELLOW paper is the vote for mayor and will have the candidate’s name on it.

7. The WHITE paper is a party vote for city council and will have 1 to 3 Hebrew letters as that party’s advertised election “letters” along with the party name and a 4-5 work description.  For example, the United Torah Judaism party has a white slip with the letter GIMMEL and says “Agudas Yisroel – Degel HaTorah”.

8.  The position of mayor will be won by majority vote.

9. The city council vote is more complicated, with each "party" running a "list of members" in an order, and each proportional amount of votes of the residents of the city representing 1 seat on the city council.  If the party gets enough for 1 seat, the first person on their list gets the seat.  If they get enough for 2 seats, the top 2 people on their list... and so on.  I believe city councils are normally 19 seats, though I’m not sure if this is the same nationwide.

10. Take one YELLOW paper and one WHITE paper, place in the envelope, seal it, return to the identification desk and place your vote into the big blue voting box.

11. There are no term limits for mayors or city council.  Positions are for 5 years, and for successful mayors can and do continue to run and hold their positions, as do councilmen (and women) who’s party’s have a supportive voter segment.  That said, new parties forming and running for city council are frequent, and getting one seat is not too challenging.

12. Council WINNERS get an advantage in the next election, with rather significant public funding for their next party election run.  In my (small) city, the parties received approximately NIS 130,000 per seat they held before the election. 

13. The system is proportional, not representative.  Therefore, NOBODY represents your area or you on city council.  On the other hand, if they’re not doing something some segment of the city supports, then they wouldn’t be getting votes.

Politics Israeli style.  Have a happy election.

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