The Knesset’s summer recess is the time when various organizations rank MKs according to their agendas, and August 2016 has followed that trend, with right-wing MKs leading a “Liberty Index” promoting the free market and individual liberty, while left-wing MKs topped the “Social Index” for left-wing socioeconomic policies.
The Liberty Index, released on Thursday by the New Liberal Movement, put MKs Sharren Haskel (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) in the lead, and Bayit Yehudi as the party most dedicated to the values of individual liberty and the free market.
The New Liberal Movement is an extra-parliamentary group dedicated to increase individual freedoms in the civil and economic areas, in the spirit of classic liberalism.
Meretz came in last place among parties, and Yisrael Beytenu is ranked lowest among coalition parties.
“Israel is in a mediocre place on international freedom indexes, and this fact comes from Israel’s history as an extreme socialist country, which gave birth to monopolistic institutions, the Histadrut Labor Union, and the concentrated market,” said Naftali Schindler, who coordinated the list for the New Liberal Movement.
He said that the Liberty Index is different from other rankings that “sanctify populist and dangerous legislation.
The MKs leading the index are acting with economic responsibility, putting the Israeli citizen at the fore, even if the legislation is unpopular.” Schindler added that next time he’d like to see MKs from other sides of the political spectrum supporting the values of the index.
Haskel said she was happy to top the list, as “these are the values at the basis of my work in the Knesset. They are the ideological foundations of the Likud, and the only way for justice, development, lowering the cost of living and strengthening the economy.”
After Smotrich, the rest of the top 10 are Likud MKs and ministers: Bennie Begin, Israel Katz, Avi Dichter, Ofir Akunis, Ayoub Kara, Amir Ohana, Yaron Mazuz and Yariv Levin.
The bottom 10 consist of Joint List MKs Youssef Jabareen, Ayman Odeh, and Abdullah Abu Marouf, followed by Zionist Union’s Eitan Cabel and Nachman Shai, MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid), and MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), with the bottom two listed as MKs Itzik Shmuly (Zionist Union) and Dov Henin (Joint List).
The ranking of parties, from top to bottom, is: Bayit Yehudi, Likud, Kulanu, United Torah Judaism, Shas, Yisrael Beytenu, Yesh Atid, Zionist Union, Joint List, MK Orly Levy-Abecasis (who is no longer a member of any party), and Meretz.
The Social Index came up with an opposite list, putting Shmuly at the top along with MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Union), followed by MK Miki Levy, the first-ever Yesh Atid lawmaker to crack the top 10.
Culture Minister Miri Regev was the highest-ranked minister on the Social Index, and the highest-ranked coalition MK is Kulanu’s Merav Ben-Ari.
The Social Index is compiled by The Social Guard, a transparency and civic participation NGO, which ranked MKs according to how they voted on socioeconomic issues. In most cases, the policies that award MKs points on the index increase government regulation and spending. A vote is considered “social” if, according to the NGO’s staff, it meets one of the following criteria: ensuring housing for all, employment rights, food and water, physical and mental health, education, social security or the ability to make a living, just distribution of resources and fair management of the economy, preventing discrimination, and allowing democratic participation.
High attendance rates also boost MKs’ scores.
The lowest-ranked MKs on the Social Index are Yehudah Glick (Likud) – who was only an MK for a month before the index was released – Ya’acov Asher (UTJ) and Michael Oren (Kulanu).
“The aim of monitoring and reviewing the votes of the ministers and Knesset members is to create public pressure that will remind them that they were elected to promote legislation for the benefit of Israel’s public and society,” said Michal Eden, research coordinator for the Social Guard.
Eden called for coalition MKs to fight the discipline that prevent them from voting for opposition lawmakers’ “social” proposals.