Mock Israeli Election for High Schools

  • by: Zvi Grumet


The Israeli Knesset has 120 seats. Israelis do not vote for a specific candidate but for a party list. The system is one of proportional representation, whereby the number of seats each list is granted is in proportion to the number of votes it receives in the elections.
Once the elections are held and the number of Knesset seats is determined, the party with the most seats is asked to form a government. Since there are many political parties, it is rare for any one party to have enough seats in the Knesset to form a majority on its own, so it must join with other parties in a coalition.
Since the larger party needs the smaller ones to form a coalition, the small parties have some bargaining power. They must be careful not to bargain too hard because the larger party can always look for different partners whose demands may be less.

Preparation for the Mock Election

In our mock election, we are going to limit ourselves to seven political parties. Their positions on some issues will differ, but there may be overlap between them on other issues. Choose 7 important political parties participating in the upcoming Israeli election and have your students do independent research on these parties to deepen their understanding and see a broader range of issues.
Before you kick off the campaign, you may want to read this article to your students. The article includes a diary entry describing what voting in Israel’s first election in 1949 was like.
Student leaders should be selected as party leaders in the school. Their job will be to study the issues and conduct an election campaign, including slogans, jingles, campaign signs, etc. Two weeks prior to the election they should choose or be assigned their parties, and should spend three days researching their party’s platform. At that point, the election campaign begins with election posters, electioneering, etc. The posters etc. should not reflect the personalities of the individuals, but the positions of the parties.

The Election

As soon as the campaign begins there should be time set aside for campaign speeches so that each party can present itself formally. This might be done in a single assembly of the student body or a series of mini-assemblies. Each party should have 5-10 minutes to present their positions before the electorate.
Three days prior to the election there should be an election debate. Again, care needs to be taken that the debate be moderated and that it be limited to issues, not personalities. On the day of the election, all the students should be reminded that the election is for the parties, not for the individuals leading the parties. Some schools may want to actually remove the party leaders from their positions to encourage a true vote. Ballots should be distributed, and the results tallied and posted.

Some schools may want to follow up their election with negotiations to form a coalition. This will require additional research into the issues concerning the parties and on which issues they are prepared to compromise. The following portfolios should be available for distribution to coalition partners after careful negotiations:
Defense, Finance, Housing, Education, Religion, Infrastructure, Culture, International Relations, Social Welfare, Interior