Basic Law: The Knesset
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politics and government of
The law was created in 1958 and updated in 1987.
Current voting system
Members of the Knesset are elected through proportional representation based on results for the entire national electorate. This means that seats are allocated across all parties fielding candidates who receive a minimum of 3.25% of the vote. Ballot papers give voters a choice of parties, rather than choosing individual candidates.
Parties have lists of candidates in order of preference. Some political parties (notably Likud, Havodah and Bayit Yehudi) have their own primary votes among party-members to decide candidate lists, whilst other parties choose their candidate lists differently: In some parties candidate lists are chosen by an assembley of political activists elected by party members, other parties (notably Shas, Yahdut HaTora and Yisrael Beitenu) have a small committee that chooses the party's candidate list, and in others (like Yesh Atid and Kulanu) candidate lists are chosen by one person only. Many parties have changed their way of choosing candidate lists over time.
Elections are nominally held every four years, but the Knesset or prime minister can decide to call an election early (snap election). Also under certain circumstances elections may be postponed past four years. The only example of a delay was the election for 8th Knesset which was postponed (for two months due to the Yom Kippur War) by a special majority in the Knesset. Since elections are nominally scheduled on either the first or third Tuesday of the Jewish month of Cheshvan (depending on whether the previous year was a Jewish leap year), it is possible for the interval between elections to be longer than four years, and up to five years if the previous early election is held near the end of the Jewish month of Cheshvan. As of 2015, the nominal schedule was observed only four times: 1959, 1965, 1969, and 1988, with the longest interval between elections being 101 days over 4 years, which occurred between the 1984 elections and the 1988 elections. With the exception of the 1973 elections, the reason that elections were not held on the nominal date was that the election date was advanced, and as previously stated, in 1973 the elections were delayed due to a war.