Israeli elections off to an early start

January 10, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Eligible Israelis in New Zealand have cast their votes for a new Israeli Government followed hours later by compatriots in Australia.

Ambassador Shemi Tzur casts the first vote

Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand Shemi Tzur casts the first vote in the world

The Israeli Ambassador  to New Zealand Shemi Tzur wass the first in the world to vote in the upcoming national elections in Israel. The polling station opened this morning at 9am, by now there have been 7 votes cast and the Embassy is expecting two more eligible voters to cast their votes later today.

Altogether in New Zealand there are 10 eligible voters for this election, most of them are employees of the Israeli Embassy.

While the upcoming national elections in Israel will be held on Tuesday, 22 January 2013, Israeli diplomats and citizens serving abroad on official business will vote twelve days earlier than Election Day in the 96 Israeli embassies and consulates around the world.

The polling station at the Embassy of Israel in Wellington will be the first in the world to open its doors.

Voting is a right granted to every Israeli citizen who has reached the age of 18 or older on Election Day. Israelis of all ethnic groups and religious beliefs, including Arab-Israelis, actively participate in the process. The number of eligible voters living in Israel is 5.1 million.

Israel is a ‘Parliamentary Democracy’. These elections will determine the composition of the 19th “Knesset” (the Israeli parliament). The Prime Minister will be chosen from among the members of the newly-elected Knesset.

The Knesset elections are based on a vote for a party rather than for individuals and the 34 parties that will compete for election to the 19th “Knesset” reflect a wide range of different outlooks and beliefs.

Israel's ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem places his vote

Israel’s ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem places his vote

According to the “Basic Law: The Knesset”: “The Knesset shall be elected by general, national, direct, equal, secret and proportional elections”. This means that:
–       General – Every Israeli citizen eligible to vote.

–       National – The entire country constitutes a single electoral constituency.

–       Direct – The Knesset is elected directly by the voters, not through a body of electors. On Election Day, voters cast one ballot for a single political party to represent them in the Knesset.

–       Equal – All votes cast are equal in weight.

–       Secret – Elections are by secret ballot.
–       Proportional – The 120 Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to each party’s percentage of the total national vote. However, the minimum required threshold for a party to be represented in the Knesset is 2% of the total votes cast.

Voting has also begun at the Israeli Embassy in Canberra.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Wellington told J-Wire: “Israeli law does not provide for absentee ballots and in general, voting takes place only on Israeli soil. The sole exceptions are Israeli citizens serving in Israeli embassies and consulates abroad or on Israeli ships.”

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