Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My G/d. There was a Coup d’etat!

Jameel asked that as today's Guest blogger I also repost my Coup d'etat article today on his website.

A famous man once said that Ariel Sharon is likely to encircle the Knesset with tanks and perform a coup d'etat. (Who was that famous man and when and why did he say it?)

I want you to give something some very serious thought.

Does anyone at all remember voting for Kadima? Yet here we have Kadima running the government.

An important quote from
wikipedia:

Coups typically use the power of the existing government for its own takeover.


The Likud party, not Ariel Sharon, and certainly not Ehud Olmert won the elections. Certainly by default, the ministerial positions (prime or otherwise) should not have gone with them. But that is only the least of it.

Yesterday Peres, Itsik, and Ramon were required to quit both the government and as MKs so they could legally run in the next elections.

From
Haaretz:

Article 6 of the Basic Law on The Government stipulates that MKs who quit one faction without resigning from the Knesset cannot serve as ministers as members of another faction during the current government term. On the other hand, once they quit the Knesset they cannot be appointed to the cabinet because by law, even in a transition government all ministers must be MKs.

Article 6A of the Basic Law on the Knesset bars an MK who leaves his or her faction, without resigning from office at the time, from running in the next Knesset election for a party that was represented in the outgoing Knesset.

Below is the actual current Basic Law text.

Basic Law:
The Government:

6(e) A Knesset member seceding from his faction and failing to tender his resignation as a Knesset member may not be appointed as a Minister during the period of service of that Knesset. This does not apply to the splitting of a faction as defined by law. "Secession from a faction" is defined in section 6(a) of The Basic Law: The Knesset.

Before you ask yourself why then aren't Kadima ministers required to quit, the answer is in the fine print of article 6(e) mentioned above "This does not apply to the splitting of a faction as defined by law. "Secession from a faction" is defined in section 6(a) of The Basic Law: The Knesset":


Basic Law: The Knesset:
The English translation above (from the Knesset) is slightly incorrect. It is not part of the main text, but rather in a Seif Katan 6(a) (sub-section) of another section of the law that is not posted on the Knesset website.

I haven't yet found an actual copy of the text, just references to it.

Anyway, according to the law, Sharon couldn't take the Likud name with him, because the majority of the Likud MKs stayed with Likud.

At this point, I'm no claim to understand what in the world is going on here.

But, it certainly seems to me it seems that there is something seriously wrong here.


The Likud still has 27 seats in the Knesset, Kadima has perhaps 14.
27 - 14 = 13 seats less.

Question: Why exactly was Sharon allowed to take the PM and ministerial positions with him, when he wasn’t even allowed to take the Likud name?

Answer: Technically, this has to do with laws regarding new elections, interim governments, and other unintended and completely unexpected applications of, and holes in, the law.

But in short, Ariel Sharon, via technicalities and gaps in the law, with a grand total of less than 12% of the Knesset seats, completely took over the government without requiring any majority support whatsoever, and now Ehud Olmert, replacing him, has free reign (I like that pun).

In short, Coup d’etat.

7 comments:

jlmkobi said...

hi
"im col hacavod" - i have seen this 'reasoning' in several rightwing blogs recently. Yes we have a very strange situation but hardly a coup. We are coming up to elections. At that time the public will decide. Because of posturing several parties left the government and left a minority in charge.
The public voted more for Ariel Sharon than they did for Likud. Otherwise, maybe Amram Mizna would be prime minister now.
So in the same way that some bloggers and others thought that it was 'undemocratic' to do the hitnatkut because
a. some members of the likud voted against it
b. or that non existent referendum should decide.
so this is just the current right wing clap trap against the legitimate government of the state of israel.

again not a normal situation but legal and legitimate.

anyone (that is citizens of the state of israel) that wants to vote against/for Kadima will have their opportunity the end of march.
but don't be too upset if labor, meretz, and the likud join with them to make the next government

Zeh Sefer Toldot Adam said...

come on Kobi...

you can't ignore the law (like Bush does)... we may have voted because of sharon, but we technically voted for the likud party.

the coup point is fair enough... but it was only an interim measure...
and perhaps the finger should be pointed not so much at Sharon, but at the likud mercaz.?

finally, if there is a legal challenge, the place to make it is the bagatz, not in the right-wing papers. frankly, you could write that sharon blackmailed the entire knesset and the bagatz and the electorate to get to be PM and the right-wing papers would print it (and sadly, many conspiracy theorist loonies would believe it.)

Joe Settler said...

zsta: You hit the nail exactly on the head.

The law is, after all, nothing more than a collection of technicalities – which we choose to follow.

When we still had direct elections, Sharon could have unquestionably, 100% legally, ethically and technically act as he did.

But direct elections were canceled, and as you correctly noted, this country voted for the Likud.

But I fully admire Sharon as the master manipulator of unintended and unexpected gaps in the law.

Throughout this past tenure, Sharon managed to find every single unintended loophole and deficiency, thus (usually) staying within the letter of the law, even if not the spirit.

His entire term was based around gracefully sidestepping laws that would have prevented him from attaining his goals, which included staying out of jail (for him and his family), and maintaining his position as Prime Minister.

He waltzed around the laws until the crisis passed.

All 100% legal, though hardly 100% ethical.

I’m glad you agree with me.

Joe Settler said...

And as I quoted from Wikipedia:

Coups typically use the power of the existing government for its own takeover.

This was a great example.

rockofgalilee said...

Joe,

What you're missing here is that if any other person in the Knesset could have gotten 60 MKs to support him then he can take over the prime ministership. The leadership of the country has less to do with who's in charge of any specific party as much as who can pull a majority together.
As such, after the public voted for their favorite parties to be MKs the MKs then vote on who becomes prime minister. A no confidence vote win is when 61 or more MKs vote that they do not support the government anymore. At that point either the government falls and there are new elections within 90 days or someone else can come up with 61 or more supporters and the President will appoint him prime minister.

The Likud tried to make a deal with Labor offering the prime ministership to Amir Peretz, but he refused to play those election games.

Joe Settler said...

But that is my point exactly. We are having new elections because Sharon no longer had majority support in the Knesset.

But you forgot one thing, instead of a no-confidence vote, Sharon quickly called up Article 29, and amidst the political chaos, the President dissolved the Knesset (and whether that was all done properly is another very serious question).

At this point, the law states that the standing PM remains at the head of the caretaker government until new elections.

But the law never considered that the standing PM would break away from his party and no longer be the head of the 1st 2nd or even the 3rd largest party.

And furthermore, since Sharon is considered a PM who resigned, he can no longer be removed via a no-confidence vote, and thus legally remains the undisputable PM (except by G/d) until the elections.

As for building a new majority, I am not sure that was legally possible once Article 29 was invoked, so it wouldn’t matter anyway (but as this wasn’t tested there is no way to know for sure).

In short, once again, by very slickly manipulating unanticipated deficiencies of the law, Sharon positioned himself as non-deposable until the elections. Despite being the head of a rather small party, he again sidestepped the crisis by buying himself enough time to manipulate things further and position himself in the cat-bird seat once elections rolled around.

But more importantly, Sharon managed to gather incredible authority around the position of PM by establishing that “executive” cabinet votes are enough to make some very serious decisions even without Knesset backup, in part because there is no true system of checks and balances (or even a real division) between the legislative and executive branches in Israel. So even then, without anything close to a majority whatsoever he continued to rule autocratically.

And now we have Olmert, taking advantage, again through the same unintended applications of the law, following in his footsteps.

bluke said...

The laws regarding the knesset in Israel are ridiculous. No one is directly elected to the Knesset. The party is elected. The fact that a group of MK's can pick up and leave a party is ridiculous. they were not elected, the seat is not theirs. No one voted for Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, etc. they voted fro the Likud. For them to take the seats is a travesty of the democratic process. IMHO, an MK should never be able to leave his party and take his seat, it is not his. The only thing he should be able to do is resign from the Knesset.

The current electoral system has shown itself to be completely bankrupt. Israel needs to move to a district system where at least some of the Knesset is directly elected. As a bonus, the average citizen would actually have some represnting them in the knesset.

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