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Nov 25, 2013

Proposed Law: Do away with minimum threshold for KNesset

The minimum threshold for Knesset had been adjusted a number of times over the years, eventually being raised to the current 2%, and recently attempts were made to bump it up to 4%. It is thought that raising the threshold would make the government more stable by ridding the government of small parties that end up wielding more power than they should naturally have, giving them the ability to make "unreasonable" demands.

MK Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) just proposed a bill by which the threshold would move in the opposite direction. Litzman would do away with the threshold entirely. Litzman believes, it seems, in evolution and natural selection, and believes that the natural threshold would do a better job at keeping the government stable and small parties out.

Litzman says that the threshold should be natural - take all the valid votes from the elections, divide by 120 (number of Knesset seats), and whichever parties garnered enough votes to reach that number would get the appropriate number of seats based on votes. Litzman even says that history has shown that raising the minimum threshold repeatedly has not stopped small parties form getting in, nor has it made the government more stable.

Doing away with the minimum threshold would also increase the number of voters, as votes would not be thrown away. All valid votes would be counted and used towards determining actual Knesset seats. This would better empower the voter, and the results of elections would be a truer reflection of the voters will.
(source: Bechadrei)

I see the benefit to Litzman's proposal, as far as ensuring people's votes actually count, but a. it has no chance of passing as it goes against the trend of the government and won't be likely to garner support and b. since the electoral system is lousy anyway, the way the parliamentary system works here, this is an exercise in futility. Nothing will improve the system until they make regional voting with a two party system.

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  1. I've got no opinion on the merits of the proposal other than to point out that as described here the math doesn't work. If the all votes are used to calculate the 1/120th needed to earn a seat, as soon as votes are cast for small parties and discarded it will be impossible to distribute the full allotment of 120 seats. For example, if the total voting population was 1200 people, this proposal says a party needs 10 votes for a seat. If 5 parties each got 8 votes, then 40 votes would be discarded. So now the total of valid votes is only 1160 and 4 seats would be left in limbo...

    1. Which is why I don't understand Lizman's logic that votes won't get wasted by doing away with a minimum....

  2. From what I last read, the 4% suggestion has been quietly put aside by Netanyahu for now. The Arabs did raise enough of a stink to show that the effort was against them.
    I do not believe in this dumb 'you are throwing your vote away' and people should respect what others want to do - that's democracy. I recall in elections overseas, national through municipal, many people run for seats under different parties, even people with 'no chance' but they still run and people vote for them and that builds confidence in democracy. If you raise the bar, you are shutting up people and telling them 'do not bother showing up' because really, does anyone think that a Kahanist will vote for Likud?
    I'm not sure if the two party system would work here and continue to protect minority views.

    1. If there would be regional elections, the politicians would protect minority views, because they would need their votes!

  3. It may not have a chance of passing, but "the parliamentary system works here?" We need district elections, and we need them now, just like most other parliamentary democracies in the world.

    Actually, what we really need is a proper Jewish monarchy and Sanhedrin, but,...

  4. i totally disagree that a two party system will improve things here. the US is a perfect example of how dysfunctional a two party system can be.

  5. Regional representation will have its own disadvantages, the major one being that most of the Knesset members will be city dwellers. The Northern Galil will have 1 rep, the southern Negev, one. Tel Aviv and Gush Dan 102, Jerusalem, 8, Yesha 1. Arabs 2, etc...
    Think it will still work?
    Apparently in Germany, there is a combined half national and half regional make up of the parliament. Maybe worth checking out.
    In order to have proper regional representation, we would need a much more developed local media which currently does not exist save for some weekend advertisement editions.
    Having one national election actually unites the whole country and keeps you involved.

  6. Only 2 Arabs is already an improvement. Do you want democracy? Or deMOCKracy?

    The system you mention is one advocated (?) by Prof. Paul Eidelberg. He cites Denmark, though.


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