I've been trying to understand the exact mechanics of how primary elections in Likud party in Israel work. So far I'm on page 3 of Google search and nothing has a meaningful explanation, only details of votes of this or that specific election, or critique of primary system without actually explaining it.

So I'm looking for a good explanation of how a primary election in Israel (specifically Likud) works.

My understanding is that the ultimate result is an ordered list of party functionaries, with top N members getting Knesset positions as per general-election party seat allocation.

What i'm interested in is,

  • whether this is correct

  • and more importantly, what exactly is the mechanics of how that ultimate ordered list result is obtained. STV?

  • Sub-question: are there special rules for PM? E.g. does Netaniyahu have to win the primaries and be #1 on the list to become the person that the President asks to form the government, should his party win a special election?

1 Answer 1


Each political party in Israel must submit a numbered list of candidates when an election is called, and it is free to choose the method of creating the list. As you write, the top members of the list will become Knesset members following the next general election. Yesterday the Likud chose most of that list.

The Likud uses a primary election among its members (around 120000 people) for most of the list, as well as some designated places (e.g. the 26th place which is reserved for a woman which hadn't run before) chosen according to number of votes in the primary elections, or by the central committee, or by Netanyahu. Netanyahu himself is not up for election and is number 1 on the list as the party head.

The party members voted yesterday. The candidates are ordered by number of votes, skipping the designated places. Reserved places such as the 26th mentioned above are filled with the next candidate down the list (i.e. elected to place 26, 27, etc.) which meets the criteria (whether or not another candidate meeting these criteria was elected by their own right to a higher place in the list).

Some designated places are regional spots, e.g. the 19th is reserved for the Shfela region. These candidates are selected based on votes from the central committee members only (which number a few thousands). The central committe members voted on these places yesterday as part of the primary election.

Finally, a few places are left open for a later choice by Netanyahu, such as the 21th.

  • Thank you. I guess a follow up question is, how did Netanyahu become a party head? Separate party head primary election? I'll ask as a separate Q later
    – user4012
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 10:53
  • 1
    @user4012 - Wikipedia has this description
    – Bobson
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 16:28

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