This Jerusalem Post article, “Reform movement” by Rebecca Anna Stoil, encapsulates the issue nicely:
…. although election reform was once viewed as too esoteric to interest Israeli voters, or even most legislators, it proved to be one of the major underlying themes in this strange month [February 2009], during which two contenders both argued that the government was theirs, and coalition agreements seemed to linger on the horizon while the country is led by a prime minister who resigned over six months ago.
Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni listed electoral reform as one of the major planks in Kadima’s negotiating platform during her failed talks with Likud chairman and Prime Minister designate Binyamin Netanyahu. Even after the talks broke down, Livni emphasized that electoral reform was one of the subjects on which the parties had managed to come to an agreement.
Israel Beiteinu chairman and coalition kingmaker Avigdor Lieberman has long been an advocate of changing the electoral system…. In his concession speech shortly after his party’s resounding defeat at the polls, Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak promised that “wherever we will be, we will act to change the elections system and the governmental system – it simply cannot continue this way. It is unacceptable that the ruling party has fewer than a quarter of the seats in the Knesset.”
…. Even President Shimon Peres was not immune from jumping on the reformist bandwagon. Peres, who at one time was a vocal opponent of election reform, complained following the election that “the system in Israel hurts big parties and encourages small ones. Thus a state is created in which the number of parties causes horse-trading and bargaining which brings down the value of politics in the eyes of he public. I believe that the many shades of Israeli society can be represented under one overarching party, and I am thus in favor of changing the electoral system – the possibilities are varied. We could go from national to regional elections, and we can raise the minimum votes needed, which today stands at 2 percent.”
…. “It is unacceptable that the elected prime minister in a democratic country can’t advance his diplomatic-political-economic mission because there are 10 to 15 parties in the Knesset – most of them small – whose entire principle is to advance the narrow interests of their voters,” wrote the founders of one of the most popular pro-reform groups.
These parties “more or less blackmail the prime minister with their votes – every few months they create a coalition crisis and threaten the dissolution of the government, and then new elections, to improve their percentages and political gains. This ultimately causes a reality in which the government is brought down about once every two years,” they said. Click here for complete article online.
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