Haredi man in Jerusalem.
Battle is raging in Jerusalem between Mayor Nir Barkat and Moshe Leon. Photo by Alex Levac
Text size

The Israeli public is usually apathetic about mayoral elections, most likely due to a misperception that only the government and the Knesset have the power to implement change. But mayors have a great deal of power that affects our lives. They are the ones who decide how billions of shekels will be used — not only revenue from the public and government, but also from wealthy investors and real-estate entrepreneurs.

Click here to read more about Israel's municipal elections

In the 2008 elections, two-thirds of the incumbent mayors succeeded in getting re-elected. The chances of an incumbent mayor continuing in office are naturally high.

The city where the most drama is expected is Jerusalem, where a battle is raging between incumbent mayor, Nir Barkat, and Moshe Leon, Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu’s challenger, who is also supported by Aryeh Deri and Shas. Leon’s victory would be a show of strength for former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, only two weeks before the verdict is handed down in his trial for fraud and breach of trust.

An interesting race is going on in Ramat Gan, as well, where the winner will replace incumbent mayor, Zvi Bar, who has served for 24 years and will not be seeking re-election. The candidates include Israel Singer, the principal of Blich High School in Ramat Gan, and former Likud MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen.

When will the local elections be held?

Elections for 191 local authorities will be held on Tuesday October 22, 2013. The polls will be open from 7 A.M. to 10 P.M. and results are expected at around midnight. Elections for the regional councils will be held on December 24.

Who is eligible to vote?

Every person aged 17 and over may vote on election day. You may vote in the city registered as your city of residence in the Population Registry as of 40 days before the elections. Come to the polls with ID — an identity card, passport or driver’s license. There is no need to bring the election notice.

Check this link to find your polling station (in Hebrew).

How do we vote?

In local elections, two voting slips are used (unlike in the Knesset elections, which use only one): a yellow slip and a white slip. The yellow slip is used to vote for mayor, and the white slip is used to vote for the municipal council list. If none of the candidates should win 40 percent of the vote, a second voting round will be held on December 5.

Can a mayor accused of a crime run for office?

Yes. According to a ruling by the High Court of Justice in the cases of the mayors of Upper Nazareth and Ramat Hasharon, even if they were dismissed from office, the basic right to vote and run for office takes precedence over the discomfort inherent in their running for mayor. The judges of the High Court of Justice stated clearly that in an ideal world, it would be fitting for them to draw the appropriate conclusions from their dismissal and not run, and they warned that if they were re-elected, they would not be immune to dismissal once more.