Elections February 2001
- Electoral System: Special
Election for Prime Minister
- Eligibility requirements for
- Campaigning regulations
- Election financing
- Voter eligibility
- Timeline of events
Electoral System: Special Election for
On December 10, 2000, Prime
Minister Ehud Barak submitted his letter
of resignation to President Katsav.
According to the Basic
Law: The Government, which took effect in 1996:
The Prime Minister may, after
notifying the Government of his decision to do so, resign by submitting
his written resignation to the President of the State; the resignation
will go into force 48 hours after the letter of resignation is submitted
to the President, unless the Prime Minister retracts prior to such time.
Should the Prime Minister resign, special elections will be conducted.
In special elections, a
candidate must be a member of Knesset, amd may be proposed by a
faction or factions of the Knesset, numbering no less than ten
The special elections will be
conducted on the last Tuesday preceding the passage of sixty days from
the day that the cause for the elections was created.
A Prime Minister who has
resigned or in whom the Knesset expressed no confidence, will continue
in office until the newly elected Prime Minister assumes office.
The elected Prime Minister
will be the candidate receiving more than half of the valid votes.
If no candidate wins such a
majority, repeat elections will be held between the two top
candidates. In the return elections, the candidate receiving the
largest number of valid votes will be the chosen candidate.
If a prime minister fails to
present a government within 45 days of the day election results become
official, another special election is held.
On January 1, 2001, the Knesset
voted 57-41 in favor of a motion to apply continuity to the bill to amend
the law on the direct election of prime minister from the same point the
previous Knesset left off. The bill itself would have to pass by a
majority of 61 MKs since it is an amendment to a Basic Law. The Knesset
Constitution Committee will begin work on the bill after the election for
prime minister on February 6. The committee will then return the bill to
the plenum for its second and third readings.
Eligibility requirements for Prime
Since the change of the electoral
system in 1996, Israel's prime minister is elected by a separate, direct
ballot. The February 2001 election will be the first time that a separate
special election will be held for prime minister, with the composition of
the Knesset remaining unchanged.
The candidate for prime minister
must be a citizen at least 30 years of age and may be nominated by a
party, or parties, with at least 10 seats in the Knesset. According the
amendment to the Basic Law: The Government passed on December 19, 2000,
both Knesset Members and non-MKs may stand for a special election. Names
of candidates for prime minister must be filed by midnight of December 21,
If the outgoing prime minister
has served for seven consecutive years, he/she may not stand for
The election laws regarding
campaigning prohibit campaign advertising from appearing on buses and
lighted billboards. In addition, the size of advertisements in the printed
media is limited, and the use of entertainment events or gifts to promote
candidates is also prohibited. Special campaign advertisements are
broadcast during the 21 days prior to elections. Each candidate will be
given 120 minutes on the radio and an equal time on television.
Candidates, during their public
campaigns, will not be allowed to make use of persons who were killed or
injured in security related activities, without the explicit permission of
the person or, in case of death, their family.
The Israel Defense Forces will
not be used as part of an election campaign in a way which suggests that
the army favors any particular candidate.
Limitations will be imposed on
the use of children under the age of 15 years in election campaigning.
Documentary materials will not be similarly restricted.
On December 31, the parties
signed an agreement on holding clean elections. The agreement calls on all
parties not to violate any laws during the election campaign, whether laws
governing the election, party financing, or any other laws. The
representatives of the candidates commit their factions to preserve the
public calm and avoid any form of violence, physical and verbal, or damage
to property, the environment and public cleanliness.
The Knesset allocated NIS 40.5
million in state campaign financing for each candidate for prime minister.
Allowable individual contributions to the election campaign were increased
from NIS 1,700 to NIS 10,000, totaling not more than NIS 7.5m per
Parties without prime ministerial
candidates are entitled to NIS 338,000 per MK to pay for campaigning in
support of a candidate.
Any candidate who earns less than
8 percent of the vote will have to pay back all the funds, and those
receiving up to 15 percent will have to pay back half.
All citizens aged 18 or older on
election day are eligible to vote. The voter registry will be updated
A total of 4,094,000 Israelis
will be eligible to vote in the February 6 elections, an increase of about
5% (188,000) over the total number of eligible voters in the 1999
elections. (An additional 410,000 Israelis abroad will not be able to
Arab voters constitute 12.3% of
the eligible voters. Immigrants since 1990 constitute 18.3% (771,000
Election day is a holiday in
order to enable all to participate.
Voting will take place at 7,800
polling stations. Soldiers and policemen on active duty vote in special
polling stations in their units. Special arrangements have also been made
for prison inmates to vote, as well as for those confined to hospital.
Women living in shelters for abused women will, for their own protection,
be allowed to vote in special ballots away from their hometowns.
Israeli law does not provide for
absentee ballots, and voting takes place only on Israeli soil. The sole
exceptions are official Israeli envoys serving in missions abroad, and
members of the Israeli merchant marine.
Voting will take place on January
25, 2001 at 99 Israeli diplomatic missions around the world with more than
1,800 eligible voters. The Israeli mission in New York is the largest,
with more than 300 eligible voters. The mission in Oman is the smallest,
with only three eligible voters.
Timeline of events
November 28, 2000: The
Knesset voted in a first ballot in favor of dissolving the House and
new general elections.
December 10, 2000: Prime
Minister Barak submitted his letter of resignation to President Katsav.
December 12, 2000: The Prime
Minister's resignation entered into effect.
December 19, 2000: The
Knesset voted in favor of an amendment to the Basic Law allowing a
non-MK to run in a special election for prime minister. The Knesset
voted against general elections. Binyamin Netanyahu announced that he
would not stand for election.
December 21, 2000: Last day
for submission of candidacy for prime minister.
January 17, 2001: Broadcasts
of campaign advertisements begin.
January 25, 2001: Israeli
envoys and seamen abroad cast their ballots.
February 4, 2001: Any
candidate wishing to withdraw his candidacy is required to do so no
later than 48 hours before the election.
February 6, 2001: Election
February 17, 2001: If a
candidate fails to gain more than 50 percent of the vote, a second
round will be held for the two candidates with the most votes.
Within 45 days of the
publication of the election results, the prime minister-elect will
present the list of ministers and basic policy guidelines before the
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs