Q: What's at stake?
A: Voters elected a 120-member parliament, or Knesset, Israel's 20th. Citizens voted for party lists, not individual candidates. Seats are allocated in the Knesset according to the percentage of the national vote the parties won.
Q: Who was running?
A: There were 25 parties running. Key parties are the governing Likud Party, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; the Zionist Union, headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, which wants to resume negotiations with the Palestinians; the Joint List, a union of Arab parties that drove up voter turnout among Israel's Arab minority; Kulanu, led by Likud defector Moshe Kahlon; Jewish Home, led by high-tech millionaire Naftali Bennett; Yesh Atid, led by former TV personality Yair Lapid. Two ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties could play key roles after the election. According to a 2014 law, a party must win 3.25 percent of the vote to be represented in parliament.
Q: How will a government be formed?
A: In Israel's 67-year history, no party has ever won an outright majority of 61 seats, and the country has always been governed by a coalition. Israel's president determines who has the best chance of forming a government. The head of that party will have up to six weeks to form a coalition. If successful, he or she becomes prime minister. The president could also ask the leaders of the two biggest parties to form a unity government.
Q: How do the elections work?
A: There are 5.8 million eligible voters and there were 10,119 polling stations. Turnout in the last election in 2013 was 67.8 percent. Election Day is a national holiday.
Q: What are Israel's demographics?
A: Population : 8.2 million, of whom 75 percent are Jewish, 20 percent are Arab and the rest are mostly non-Jewish immigrants. Per capita gross domestic product is $36,051.