Israel has a parliamentary system based on nation-wide proportional representation. This means that voters elect nationally-registered political factions—not local candidates.
Each faction receives representation in the 120-seat Knesset (parliament) proportional to how many votes it gets. Factions must meet a threshold of at least 3.25 percent of the vote to qualify for seats in the Knesset. This relatively low threshold allows small parties to have disproportionate influence in the political system, since large parties are reliant on small party support to form governing coalitions. Factions may determine their own list of candidates, including by internal election or appointment.
Following the April 9 election earlier this year, Benjamin Netanyahu was given the mandate to negotiate a governing agreement between the right, far-right and center-right parties. Personality clashes, political brinksmanship and a disagreement between secular and Orthodox parties led to a collapse in those negotiations.
In the final seconds before a midnight deadline which would have seen another leader be granted a mandate, the Knesset, at the urging of Netanyahu, instead voted to dissolve itself, setting Israel up for fresh elections on September 17.
Netanyahu, facing potential indictment on corruption charges, is now engaged in the fight of his political life, having been severely wounded by his failure to form government. The left-wing and centrist parties, bruised by a narrow defeat earlier this year, now have a chance at redemption with a second run at ending Netanyahu’s four term Prime Ministership.
Voter turnout in the April 2019 elections was 68.5%.