Short Comparison Of The Israeli And United States' National Electoral Systems

We the PeopleVoting and Legislative Bodies
ISRAEL: Voters cast one ballot for a single political party to represent them in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament. The Knesset is unicameral and is comprised of 120 elected party members. Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to each party's percentage of the total national vote. The number and order of members entering the new Knesset for each party corresponds to its list of candidates as presented for election.

US: Citizens vote separately for three candidates, one for President, one for Congress to represent their local district, and one for the Senate to represent their state. Congress is bicameral – the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, has 435 members; the upper chamber, the Senate, has 100 members. The executive branch and legislative branch are separate. House members and Senators are elected directly, and in nearly all cases represent one of two parties – Democratic or Republican.

Electoral Districts
ISRAEL: Parties and Knesset members are elected by citizens throughout Israel. The State of Israel represents a single electoral district.

US: Each House Member is elected by constituents of their Congressional district. Congressional districts are based on population size. More populous states have more Members of Congress. Each state is represented by two Senators, who are elected by the residents throughout that state.

Political Leader
ISRAEL: The Prime Minister is selected from among the Knesset members. The President of the State assigns the task to the Knesset member considered to have the best chance of forming a viable coalition government with a majority of Knesset members.

US: The president is elected by a combination of a national popular vote and the Electoral College (EC). For most states, when a candidate wins the popular vote, he or she also wins the state’s votes in the EC. Candidates need 270 EC votes to win the presidency. The number of votes a state has in the EC corresponds to its representation in Congress.

Israeli Ministers of Government/US Cabinet Secretaries
ISRAEL: In most cases, the prime minister appoints members of the elected coalition party to serve as ministers of the government. In rare cases, professional ministers are appointed.

US: Professionals or political leaders are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate.

Parties Competing for Election
ISRAEL: In the upcoming 2013 elections, 34 parties and lists are competing for election to the Knesset. Between 10-15 parties are usually elected to the Knesset. In the 2009 elections, 12 parties were elected.

US: Most members who succeed in elections represent either the Democratic or Republican Party. There are two current Senators who are Independent, with no party affiliation.

Campaign Finance
ISRAEL: Most funding for parties comes from the State of Israel based on their current and future number of Knesset members. Part of the funding is received after the elections. Private donations are only allowed from private citizens. An individual household may contribute up to 2,300 shekels (approximately $600) in an election year, and 1,000 shekels in a non-election year. In the last election, the treasury paid out 160 million shekels (approximately $38 million) in party financing.

US: The two major political parties – Democrats and Republicans – have various official committees on the national, state, and local levels to fund campaigns. Donations to those organizations come from private citizens or candidates. Individuals may contribute up to $2500 to a candidate per election cycle; $30,800 to a national party committee per year; and a combined limit of $10,000 to state and local party committees per year. Outside organizations called political action committees (PACs) can also raise money to contribute to a candidate or run their own independent advertising. In the 2012 election cycle, the major parties and their committees raised a combined total of over $3.5 billion.

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