The government Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is working on forming will be
the first since 1974 to not give automatic veto power to the parties in the
coalition on changes in the Basic Laws that are the forerunner to a potential
constitution, a source close to Avigdor Liberman revealed Sunday.
veto power clause has prevented electoral reforms from being made despite many
efforts over the past decade. Even when as many as 80 Knesset members supported
potential changes in the electoral system, they were blocked by Shas or United
At a Knesset press conference with the heads of
pro-electoral reform organizations on Sunday, Liberman, No. 2 in Netanyahu’s
Likud Beytenu, said he would try to reach a consensus on electoral reforms with
all the parties that are interested in joining the coalition.
acknowledged that the haredi parties might not go along with his plan to pass
key electoral reforms in the Knesset’s first month.
“Most parties support
such changes, but we cannot force our will on everyone,” Liberman
Veteran electoral reform advocates Uriel Reichman and Amnon
Rubinstein complained about the veto clause at the press conference and advised
Liberman to remove it from the coalition agreement. Shortly afterward, a source
close to Liberman revealed that he had agreed and that if he cannot get Shas and
UTJ to support electoral reforms, he would take action to ensure the clause
would not be part of the coalition agreement so they would not be able to
prevent the reforms from advancing.
“It is a perversion of democracy that
almost everyone agrees on key changes and one man prevents consensus views from
being advanced,” Reichman said.
The most immediate change Liberman
intends to make would make it much harder to overthrow the government via
noconfidence votes. Such motions, which can now be filed by any opposition
faction, would require 65 MKs to come to the Knesset floor. Liberman said that
while other reforms would take effect from the next election onward, this change
could take effect immediately.
“The games of no-confidence votes erode
the strength and the stature of the parliament,” Liberman said. “It is a waste
of time to have no-confidence motions that have no chance of passing every
Liberman will also push for raising the electoral threshold from
two to at least three percent, automatically making the leader of the largest
party prime minister, limiting the cabinet to 18 ministers who would not be
Knesset members, and no longer permitting toppling a prime minister by failing
to pass the state budget.
The representatives of the proelectoral reform
organizations tried to persuade Liberman to also adopt direct, regional
elections for part of the Knesset, but he was not expected to accept that
advice. He asked the electoral reform advocates to help him persuade other
potential coalition partners to reach a consensus on the issue.
the electoral system is the most critical issue for the new government,”
“There will have to be compromises. As someone who
backed a presidential system for years, I am ready to concede and adopt other
Reichman and Rubinstein praised Liberman for pushing the
“The public wants a change in the system,” Rubinstein
“They want more governability, but the current system prevents