Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCXLII. The Ma’abarot Stage (18 of 26)

Proportional representation is used to elect the members of the Knesset.  It is a system perhaps unique in the world, and it is totally maddening!

Let us therefore take a closer look at it and discuss its implications.

Since Israel came into being over 60 years ago, rare is the time when it has not found itself in the eye of the storm.  Therefore, the question as to how it is governed takes added importance.

No country is easy to govern; Israel, however, is barely governable.  Its people are fiercely independent and opinionated; it is surrounded by enemies; it is almost always in the news; it sits in the Middle-East, a region that has never known stability going back to biblical times!  And if all that wasn’t enough, it uses a “Country-Wide Proportional Representation” system.

To fill the 120 seats in the Knesset, the voter vote for a party.  Israel has no districts, and an Israeli does not have a representative in the Knesset; there is nobody to turn to if help is needed; that said, you can turn to the party you actively (i.e. not merely by voting for it) support.

Each party prepares a list with 120 names (an assumption that they can win all the seats!).  The individuals at the top of the list are of course the leader and the top brass.

When you vote, you’re handed an official envelope; in the booth, you’ll find a tray with slips, and on the slips are the symbol of the parties, usually 1 to 3 letters.  You take a slip for the party you wish to vote for, put it in the envelope and seal it.  For example, if you wish to vote for Yisrael Beitenou, you’ll select a slip with the Lamed (equivalent to our L) which is the symbol for this party and place it in the envelope.  Voila! It’s that simple.  New immigrants (who at times came from primitive societies) can easily vote; a voter can also bring an approved helper (example, an old man can bring his grandson) who can go in the booth with him.  Every letter in the Hebrew alphabet has an equivalent in Arabic, thus Arab voters will also have no difficulties.

At this point in time, a party needs to obtain 2% of the votes to secure a seat in the Knesset.  For example, in the 2009 election, the Kadima party secured 56% of the votes and has now 28 seats.

I do not have enough space to list the consequences of such a system; but the most obvious follow.

  1. To my knowledge, no party in the history of Israel has secured an absolute majority.  The parties need to come together after each election to put together a coalition for a majority government (i.e. at least 61 seats).  You cannot imagine the horse-trading that needs to take place before there is a government in place; and such a government is fragile, it can, and does, easily fall.
  2. The voters have no say as to who will seat in the Knesset.
  3. Under such a system, parties can proliferate like mushrooms after the rain!  In the 2009 election, 33 parties were in the run, and 13 were elected!
  4. The party with the most votes does not necessarily form the government.  In the 2009 election, the Kadima party had 28 seats, yet the Likud with 27 seats forged a coalition and today governs the country with like-minded partners.
  5. Israel has no constitution; it was never possible to get enough agreement to draft one that would be satisfactory to all the players involved.  There are other countries that do not have a constitution; however, for a long time, Israel had an unofficial Flag and National Anthem.  I understand that today Israel had finally made these important national symbols official.
  6. Israel is stuck with such a system for all eternity!  The smaller parties will never vote for a change; they’ll be signing their (political) death warrant!  Under a more flexible system, they’ll disappear!

Comments are closed.