Nov 25, 2014

are we headed back to direct elections?

I don't like the current electoral system, and I believe it should be changed. However, I do not like the idea of changing it, like any law, just to help or hurt a specific person. It should be changed in order to provide a more stable and efficient system of governance, not to promote a specific candidate, help his chances, or hurt a candidate's chances.

That si why I do not like the new proposal by MK Amir Peretz (Hatnua).

Peretz is worried that in the current electoral system, Naftali Bennet has a reasonable chance to become Prime Minister of Israel. In some constellation, his party could become the largest party, and then he would be appointed to hobble together a coalition. In a direct electoral system, where the people have to vote for the specific prime ministerial candidate, Bennet does not have a chance, according to Amir Peretz. The assumption being that the 20% support he has is his limit, or close to it, and that's not nearly enough to win enough votes to become prime minister.

So, Peretz is working to change the electoral system back to the one in which elections for prime minister are direct elections.
source: Srugim

To remind you, this was done before and deemed a total failure. It accomplished the exact opposite of what its goals were. It was mean to be the first stage of an overall change to full direct elections and thereby create more stable government, with the small parties being knocked out entirely and more power given to the large parties. The direct elections effected in reality a situation in which people could vote for their preferred candidate, and still support their preferred party, and they gave even more power to the small parties. When the large parties suffered from the change, they quickly reversed the decision and went back to the old system. What I think they should have done is go immediately to stage  and complete the electoral reform, but they didn't.

So, Amir Peretz, because he wants to hurt the chances of one potential candidate, wants to change the entire electoral system to one that everybody already admitted was an even worse system.

It is also interesting that he thinks Bennet's chances of becoming prime minister are good enough that this must be done.

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  1. I'm sorry but Bennett becoming Prime Minister is a good thing?

    You're kidding, right?

  2. Bennet, to his credit, is striving for the top. He left the Likud where he'd have to take the long route and work the floor like Feiglin, and hijacked the Mafdal. He openly talks about becoming the lead party, but his problem is the religious people in his party and constituency that don't want to be so pragmatic in order to become just another regular party.

    There are few other people in Israeli politics who are striving to the top. Netanyahu, Bennet, Lapid, Feiglin, Herzog, who else?

  3. Bennett has a long way to go to demostrate to me that he recognizes the conflicts between halakha and Israeli law.

    He wants to give Arabs some autonomony. He wants to grant others citizenship. Apparently, he's never heard of the negative commandment "lo techonem."

    This is only one example of how problematic Bennett is.

  4. Direct election of MKs (similar to direct election of Congressmen in the US and MPs in Britain) would be a better reform.

    Note also how Peretz and other politicans justify any change in terms of electing or not electing a certain person, as opposed to what would be fairer or more efficient for the system at large.

  5. Going to a direct representation model is not a great idea for Israel but IMO might probably be worse. It would seem that the Knesset actually gives very high affirmative action to minorities and rural citizens in that the kibbutzniks and religious people have a fairer chance then if the country was divided up into voting districts. Changing the system would definitely give much more power to urbanites. Arabs would definitely get more power as well because instead of voting for Jewish parties like Labour and Meretz, they'd be voting for specifically Arab district representatives.

  6. Funny. That reminds me of when we had a secret ballot in our shul among candidates for a Rabbi to hire. And two congregants went on the warpath that the voting/counting method was risking people "playing" the system and could result in choosing someone no one wanted. Unknown to them, while they were afraid of specific attempts to knock their own favorite down, he was actually everyone's favorite. We kept the system as is, and the Rav was chosen with a high consensus.


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