The leaders of the two largest parties would face off in a run-off race for prime minister in the next election if a new electoral reform bill proposed by Hatnua faction chairman Meir Sheetrit becomes law.
The current law empowers the president to appoint the party leader he believes would form the most stable government to build a coalition. While it has usually been the leader of the largest party, it was not in 2009 when Kadima – led by Tzipi Livni – had one more seat than Likud, but President Shimon Peres appointed instead Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the leader of the largest political bloc.
There have been unsuccessful attempts in the past to enable the leader of the largest party to form a government automatically without involving the president.
That idea was resurrected during the June presidential election, because of animosity between Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
Sheetrit, who lost the election to Rivlin, supports taking away the president’s power and letting the people of Israel decide their prime minister. The leaders of the two largest parties would run against each other for prime minister after the Knesset election unless one party wins what would be considered a landslide victory with 45 percent of the vote.
“My bill would decrease the extortion involved in the political horse-trading when a coalition is built,” Sheetrit said. “It would change the political map, because parties will join together in blocs.”
Sheetrit has tried to sell the idea to Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog.
He expressed confidence that Netanyahu will back it in order to neutralize Rivlin.
“If I persuade the prime minister, and I think I can, it will move forward,” he said. “I first proposed the idea last year before I knew I was running for president. I will try again to sell it when the Knesset returns from its summer recess. It’s a logical thing to do.”
The current Knesset has already passed electoral reform legislation that minimizes the number of no-confidence motions, caps the number of ministers and raises the electoral threshold.