Sunday, February 22, 2009

Election Shenanigans

JoeSettler here (so you don’t blame Jameel for this post).

I’m really getting tired of certain election-related shennigans, especially the one this post is about.

Yes, the system is messed up, but the primary solution that keeps being put forward (increasing the threshold) is the ones that would ultimately exclude most of the diverse parties and deny a voice to significantly large sectors of the population.

If they could get away with it, they really would try to create a 2 (or 1) party system in Israel, and not allow in anyone who doesn’t fit.

Israel needs to go back to the 2 ballot race, where we vote for Prime Minister separate from the Knesset, but this time do it right.

Grant Executive powers to the Prime Minister separate from the Legislative powers of the Knesset, and grant each branch certain veto powers over the other (and remove the ability to call for early elections, except in very limited cases). And then obviously we do not require a coalition to form a government. Each one will do their job, and if one decides to unfairly block the other, they will get it back in return with the other branch’s veto power.

In the end, we’ll either have permanent deadlocks, or the opposing branches will learn to compromise and work together on important issues of national concensus (more likely).

But no more cobbling together coalitions with all the extortion, horse trading, and other nonsense.

But that isn’t the point of this post.

What irks me right now is what Netanyahu is trying to do. For whatever reason, Bibi wants his National Unity government with Kadima, even though that is not the will of the people.

But that isn’t the point of this post either.

What really bothers me is the following – and this is the point of this post.

Kadima received 28 mandates. Many of those mandates came from the far Left who wanted to block Bibi.

There are serious backroom talks going on right now that at least 10 Kadima MKs may jump ship to the Likud!!!!

Imagine you voted for Kadima and your votes went to the Likud, or think back to Oslo, when Rabin openly bribed two RW MKs to vote for Oslo, or Sharon stealing the entire government by creating Kadima, when we all voted Likud and for Likud stated policies.

We, the voters, are getting openly cheated. Our votes are being robbed in broad daylight.

These mandates are not the personal property of these MKs. They belong to the parties that received the votes (as the party is all we are allowed to vote for).

If these 10 MKs jump ship to the Likud, I will be among the first (I am the first in fact right now) to demand a national protest against this open vote stealing. I will demand the entire government be replaced. Streets should be closed. The Knesset should be picketed. There should be a national strike.

This goes far beyond the typical bait-and-switch politics of our politicians.

I don’t care, Left or Right, we the people voted for the parties we wanted in office. If an MK is unhappy, then let him quit, but he has no moral right to switch allegiances mid-term. These MKs didn’t win their seats, their parties did.

It may be legal, but this is simply unethical.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


bluke said...

I agree 100% . I have been saying this for a long time. The fact that in a list based system MK's can simply pick and up leave is scandalous. If you don't like the party that you are in, resign. The party was elected and the party should control the seat. If an MK doesn't like it let him resign. The current system is the worst of both worlds. There is no personal accountability, you cannot vote anyone out of office, if they are high on the list they will be in the Knesset. On the other hand the MK's can do whatever they want with the seat once they get it. This is a formula for disaster and is anti-democratic (remember Sharon and Kadima).

Anonymous said...

i think the first problem of government is that they call themselves a party.

i take it there is no TERM LIMIT for being in the MK?

maybe they should set limits and have the people vote for the individual members.

Nate said...

I'm on board. It's high time we get a real constitution in Israel. I'm also not a fan of "vote sharing" either, my vote went to HaBayit Yehudi not to some other party even if they are similar.

Anonymous said...

Agreed.MKs should not be able to leave their party. If they don't like their situation they can resign.

However, you can be sure that no such legislation will ever come to pass since our MKs are not that stupid to give up such power and most of the voters are not honest or smart enough to chose decent MKs.

Anonymous said...

Joe Settler I appreciate your comments. I was thinking it would be a good idea for these people to switch to Likud until I read your post. (Thinking along the lines that these people were ORIGINALLY Likud and they were just returning) I hadn't really thought about how the voter would feel, forgetting already how furious I was when Kadima stole all the Likud votes...(altho what goes around comes around maybe???..:)) I also agree that a multi-party system is superior to a 2 party sytstem for the reasons you gave, and would support the 2 ballot method. Good post.

Anonymous said...

Umm, let's do something radical, like what the Torah says about setting up a gov't.

Anonymous said...

WRONG! The vote stealing/trading and political corruption is part of the stench you get from having an unlimited number of parties whose interests can be broad or single issue. I believe that a better fix would be in part a two ballot system. Isreal needs to be divided up into sections (maybe 120) and 1 person is elected from each section as that area's MK. (The ability to recall any elected official must be a part of any good plan.) Plus a vote for President. Let the President pick who gets what portfolio, from the MK's or not. Sever the relationship between the executive and legislative branches. Every ten years from the date of appointment, a national referendum on a sitting Supreme Court Judge.

The fact that people voted for Kadima at all shows that many Israelis are not yet ready to stop the rockets or bring Gilad home. Shameful!

Worse is that egomaniac Lieberman deciding that he's positioned well enough that he can go on vacation without a government first being formed. Wake up you people in Yisrael Beitenu, the number three party in the country is being led by a self-interested moron.

JoeSettler you may not be happy that these votes are being stolen, but until Israel moves to a fewer party system and that forces tiny parties like the "greens" to vote with Meretz or all of the religious parties to vote together or with some other like-thinking group this is the way it's going to be. I wish that Lieberman's MK's would jump ship to Likud (and I'm not a Bibi fan). The thought of Livni or Lieberman in the government sickens me.

By the way, I would have voted Lamed had I been given the opportunity to vote. Black hat, orthodox Yid that I am, despite Rav Ovadia Yosef saying that my sin would be too great to bear.

Anonymous said...

mkf: I won't deny the good feeling I'll have when Kadima collapses as the rats jump from the sinking ship, but the voters will still be cheated.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I feel the same way.

I'd like to see Kadima collapse, but it's not right to see it happen POST-ELECTION.

The system stinks.

NormanF said...

With a constituency system, cynical party jumping is impossible since an elected official would have to answer to voters for betraying them at the next election. With a party list system, the only fidelity MKs owe is to the party bosses who put them on the list and then to themselves. There's no accountability. Any serious election reform in Israel should go to a two vote system like in Germany. It should get rid of the horse-trading. And Israel should adopt an American style presidential system to give someone the responsibility of getting ready to run the country rather than waste precious time cutting deals with other parties.

Israel's electoral system produces wasteful, irresponsible and ineffective government. Three evils in need of urgent remedy.

Anonymous said...

I can just see what happens if Israel goes to district based voting... gerrymandering will be soooo popular.

Unknown said...

Pardon the question from the ignorant American, but I thought that coalition-building was how the Parlimentary system was supposed to work. If a rival party leader can get some Kadima MPs to join a coalition government, isn't that a _good_ thing?

Why would those Kadima MPs have to renounce their party membership to join a Netanyahu coalition? Just because they defy their leadership, does it mean they have to leave the party?

Anonymous said...

Robert: In Israel coalitions can only be formed by parties, not individuals.

If I recall correctly, individual MKs cannot split off and become a new party once elected.

If they want to do so, they must go as a block that consists of a certain percent of the old party (I think it is 1/3).

That is why Bibi wants 10 Kadima MKs to switch sides, it wasn't a random number, but rather 1/3 of the Kadima party.

Anonymous said...


Isn't it obvious that the left is dead? Yes, Livni picked up votes. But you're claiming she won, not by picking up Kadima's old votes. Though where did those go?

Yes, if the Prime Minister is charged with foreign affairs; which is a key to understanding American presidents; then, I assume you could have a prime minister from one party. But the Knesset "ruled" by another party.

Then? What happens, let's say, when the prime minister, chosen, is Livni? Hmm? She's the head of what? Likud won't take instructions from her. And, who, in fact, would hold "portfolios?" Which are an Israeli system.

I think things look messy, now, because you're seeing (in full view), a court press that owns no ability to do strategy. (Except for Yossi Beilen.) Beilen, the other day, said, "don't look at Livni!" Up ahead, Dahlia Itzik will be offered the speakership of the Knesset. And, Mofaz will be offered Defense.

Within Kadima? Olmert hates Livni. Mofaz can't stomach Livni. And, if you watched Ehud Barak for the past twelve months, or so; you'd see he's never once in the same picture with Livni.

While Likud had only 12 seats, most of the "action" was behind the scenes. Where, to me, it's obvious, Morris Talansky was the "conservative Jew" from America; brought in to charge Olmert with theft. But Olmert had nothing to do with Talansky, after 1996! Going back years! The man has not been there, hired by Olmert, to raise funds! It's as if someone with a grudge could come in and do this. And, Olmert didn't fall on his sword, yet.

I mention this, only because Olmert may not get charged. Or? He might be able to win in Court? Justice is not served by frenzied media activity! And, sometimes? At least in America, it gets judges very, very mad.

What happens if Olmert doesn't get indicted? Or, in the 2nd case, is indicted, but beats the wrap? Wouldn't Livni be superfluous then?

And, Ehud Barak. I can't fault him as a strategist. He tried to breathe life back into Labor. But what's NOT there is just not there!

What does Bibi want? (Me? I think he wants Kadima, but he doesn't want Livni.)

As to wishing the political system were different, at this point in time it's not going to be changed. And, Israeli politicians won't allow in absentee ballots. (Here, the benefits would go to religious parties.) That's why you're not going to see it.

And,up ahead, I don't see Bibi throwing up his hands. Which would mean new elections.

Meanwhile, in Livni's complaints, I do notice she is staking out the left. Trying to raise the dead, I suppose?

Bibi knows the mainstream is in the center. If he stays focused on that people will be happy enough with the government he brings together.

Like I said, Yossi Sarid is a strategist. He noticed the flaws in Livni's arguments. And, he said "just stay focused on Itzig.

Now, if Mofaz coes go into Defense, isn't it possible Ehud Barak, and not YVET (Avigdor Lieberman) would be the most desirable foreign minister?

Anonymous said...

In the face of so much alienation between voter and rep, it's very tempting to rearrange the seats on the deck of the Titanic. The fact that it's been done -- with disastrous results -- does not do away with the urge to fix the system from above. But regardless of how many different ways those seats are rearranged, the Titanic continues to charge directly into the iceberg (you'll note how I stuck with one metaphor so far!).

With 80% of all income in Israel controlled by fewer than 20 families, free elections have become an exercise in citizen pacification. Since the families need us to serve in the military and function creatively in the economy, they permit us this illusion of influence over the way things work. Indeed, nothing pleases the families more than a heated discussion of which way to carve the voter’s expressed will, since it averts attention from the fact that every prime minister since 1967 has followed a consistent, unwavering policy line, dictated by a brutal coalition of capital, industry and the legal authorities, namely the courts and the police. This is not a conspiracy, by the way, but merely the way the business of state is run in a small country existing in an island-like political isolation.

Yoel.Ben-Avraham said...

Sorry I can't disagree more. I can understand how an American might see separate election of the 'Prime Minister' similar to that of the US president, but that misses the point. The Israeli system is in the corrupt decaying circumstance it is because there is NO accountability on the part of the elected to the electorate. Only a system where an elected official feels responsible to the 50 or 60 thousand people in his constituency can we hope to change things. Both West Germany and New Zealand had our electoral method, and they both changed it in the late fifties early sixties. They opted for the hybred - half constituency - half party list. It is better than a situation where there is NO REAL democracy, neither within the parties (no real primaries) nor a relationship between the elected and the electorate.

My two cents!

Anonymous said...


Let's keep something straight. America doesn't have a democracy! The Founding Fathers thought a "democracy" meant MOB RULE! America has a REPUBLIC. And, a US Constitution that parcels out three branches of government.

Where the US President gets the most power is with foreign policy. He is also Commander In Chief.

And, then? America balances minority rights, against mob rule.

The legislature was always thought to be a pork factory. Where you make sausages. And, voters enable some citizens to win seats. While the same voters can switch. Change their minds. And, vote for someone else; and/or other parties.

All the complaints don't matter, IF the people who get elected are good politicians. And, so far? Israel's had some better stuff than America got. We've had 44 presidential elections. And, 43 men. (Grover Cleveland won, lost, and then one, again.) To explain the count.

And, now it takes so much money to elect anyone, that it's an "insiders game." But your "insider" can lose. Adlai Stevenson lost twice. (Eisenhower won, twice.) And, then things get nasty. LBJ? Nasty stuff. Nixon, worse. Ford, dumb. Jimmy Carter was an outsider brought in by voters; who began to think "someone religious" would get the lord's backing. Instead, it seemede Carter just tired the Good Lord out. As did Bush. This one.

While Bush's dad, back in 1991, saw Israel absorbing SCUDS, and yet he screamed at Shamir "not to do anything." Because the arabs hated Jews.

To top this off? The father, Bush, President #41, then told Shamir "too bad you're absorbing 1-million-russians; because Americca won't sign loan guarantees. (Israel, needing the loans, paid a higher interest rate.)

And, now? Well, back in 2007, Israel thought it got a ten year commitment from Dubya, for billions in aid. A TEN YEAR COMMITMENT! Go read Drudge, today. The paperwork has been tossed out; by Obama. And, now Israel is again being threatened. To build settlements is to LOSE BILLIONS.

As long as Israel has good strategists in place, all is not lost.

I don't accept what I read in the papers at face value. I still think Livni can fail to hold her party together; and that IF 10 MKs chose to leave to Likud; this can get done.

Meanwhile, in the USA, the GOP is beset with religious lunatics. You can't reason with them. They want to make abortions illegal. And, they want Genesis to substitute for science.

I tend to read Right Wing blogs. So I do read Little Green Footballs. And, as long as you have this pro-life stuff that turns off mainstream voters. And, as long as you have "creationists" among the top 3 republican governors, you're giving Obama and all the democrats a free ticket to stay in charge.

If you want me to guess the future? I think at some point, ahead, you'll see Dahlia Itzik at the Knesset speaker. Shaul Mofaz in Defense. And, Yvet, Avigdor Lieberman's nickname, the FOREIGN minister; which I think is the portfolio Livni still holds.

As to Ehud Barak, Olmert just shot the rug out from under him. Dumped on Gilad, from the IDF. And, yes, folks, the seating arrangements in the theater will change.

That Livni can bring on new elections? Nah. One trick she's already done, though, is prove that with 70 MKs she wasn't capable of forming a government!

To get to where we are now? Shimon Peres came out early and flagged Bibi. All the things you read in the beginning? BS from talking heads. What can I do to convince you there's no power there? You want me to call Gil Hoffman Dan Rather?

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