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Sep 23, 2019

reforming the electoral game

This method of elections and then party leaders recommending to the President who they want as PM, the President basing an appointment on that, and then the PM-select trying to form a coalition before the mandate is given to someone else, is a bit ridiculous. It has become a game of sorts, as each one tries to game the system, to manipulate the game in his favor.

Right now each candidate, Gantz and Netanyahu, is trying to avoid being selected by President Rivlin as the one to try to form a coalition firast. The thought is that the first one to be given the chance will almost definitely fail. On each side there is a relatively strong bloc standing in the way of a coalition. Something dramatic would really have to happen for someone to cross sides. The second person, after the first fails, will possibly have a slightly better chance, because if he fails the country goes to elections again, so the pressure goes up to avoid that. There is more of a chance of someone crossing sides for the second person than for the first. At least that si the current thought.

So, each candidate is now positioning himself to have less recommendations and have less of a chance of being selected first.

To that end, last night it was revealed that Deputy Minister Litzman was recorded at a Gur event in which he said he has a trick up his sleeve and he is coordinating it with Netanyahu. They are considering the possibility of UTJ not recommending Netanyahu to Rivlin today. This would cause Netanyahu to have less recommendations than Gantz, almost ensuring Rivlin appoints Gantz to the first crack at forming a coalition.

After that was revealed, the heads of the United Arab List sent a letter to President Rivlin amending their recommendation from earlier in the day. Earlier in the day the members of the UAL had recommended Gantz to the President. They did so knowing they will not join a future coalition - they said so explicitly - but that this was a decision they took in order to do what they could to take advantage of an opportunity to remove Netanyahu from office and maybe from politics in general. They later sent a letter to Rivlin saying that their recommendation was only in the name of 10 of their MKs rather than all 13, as the BALAD faction of 3 MKs is not recommending Gantz. Taking away those 3 recommendations would knock Gantz below Netanyahu for that first appointment, even if UTJ doesnt recommend Netanyahu.

That being the case, I would have liked to see UTJ recommend Gantz for PM. Why not? The recommendation means nothing anyway regarding a future coalition and this would help them bump Gantz up for the first appointment.

At the end of the day, we'll see what happens and who decides what. This morning in prctice UTJ recommended Netanyahu, despite their considerations. Maybe it was just a bluff or maybe they had other reasons for this decision. I think these games are silly. Each of the two candidates should want the first appointment. If one of them wants the second and then the first succeeds, the other will kick himself for the missed opportunity. Take it and run with it.

The system needs to be changed, at least somewhat. This deadlock is not good for the country, politically or socially. We should minimally go back to the double ballot system with each voter having a vote for party and for PM, if not even greater reform.

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  1. The double ballot system was stupid, because you can easily end up with a PM who has no chance whatsoever of making a coalition - then what do you do?

  2. The double-ballot system strengthened the smaller parties at the expense of the large parties, making it more difficult to form a coalition.

    Before the double ballot system was introduced, the 2 major parties would typically received 40-50 seats, 80+ seats between them. In 1996, the first election with the double-vote system, both parties went down to the low 30s (labour went from 44 to 34, Like went from 4 to 32) that was because people felt that they could still support their candidate for PM without voting for his party (i.e., you could support Shmair as PM, but still vote Shas).

    Even after we abolished the system in 2003, the major parties went back up, but not back to the same level as before the 2 ballot system was introduced, as voters had got used to supporting the smaller parties.

    Bottom line is that the 2 ballot system lead to a less stable government, and much stronger small parties.

    Also, the President is not obligated to nominate the candidate with the highest number of recommendations, so even if Gafni recommended Gantz, that by itself is not a guarantee that Rvlin will give Gantz the first option. The president is supposed to task the candidate with the highest chance of forming a government, and in the current stalemate, it is not clear who that is.

  3. true, about the doubel ballot being problematic, but it would leave a clear nominee to try for a coalition. and it could work similar to municipal elections with a double ballot and the mayor tries to get a majority coalition but it isnt absolutley necessary.. the PM and the Knesset would have to be decoupled somehow. Anyways, in my opinion, the double ballot would have to only be the first step of electoral reform. Last time it was meant to be the first stage but when it didnt work out as expected, instead of finishing the reform with the next stages as planned, they reversed it. the damage was done, and now the big parties are not big enough and the small parties wield too much power and we have this crazy political stalemate.

    regarding the presidents recommendation, you are correct. but the parties are operating ont eh assumption that the greatest factor taken into account is who has the most recommendations.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Yes. I messed up the same post twice. Will try a third time.

  6. Rivlin has another problem that he has to deal with. Some people on the Likud side believe that he is trying overthrow Bibi for personal reasons. The Knesset even went as far as considering passing legislation to stop such a situation. They wanted the leader of the party with the most mandates should have the first chance to form the Government. Choosing anyone but Bibi would prove that his conspiracy theory was true.

    On the Blue & White side, there is suspicion that as a like long Likudnik he will choose Likud out of personal bias and not who really has a better chance to form a Government.

    To that end I have been seeing a bunch of different people, using different calculations to 'prove' that 'the Right' took this election by a clear majority and it is inconceivable that the people want a Unity Government or that Gantz should be given the first nod.

    The only objective evidence that Rivlin has to support his decision is the recommendation list. A UTJ 'trick' of endorsing Gantz could not work because everyone would know that either UTJ betrayed their supporters or that it is was a trick. Rivlin might even have ground to disregard the recommendation.


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