(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a controversial Yisrael Beytenu electoral reform bill Monday.
The legislation proposed by Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee chairman David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu) would increase the election threshold to four percent, limit the number of ministers including the prime minister to 19 and deputy ministers to four.
In addition, the bill would require no-confidence motions to be submitted by at least 61 MKs and to include an alternative candidate for prime minister. If that candidate cannot form a government, the Knesset would not be dissolved.
Rotem’s bill also would extend the amount of time a new government has to pass a budget from 45 to 100 days.
“This bill fulfills our promise to voters to strengthen governability and the Knesset,” Rotem explained. “It cannot be that the prime minister and the government will be subject to extortion and endless parliamentary tricks.”
According to the Yisrael Beytenu MK, “the nation elected this government so it can rule and run the country, and we must let this happen. Everyone who cares about the good of the country and the lives of citizens must support this proposal.”
Most of the articles of the new bill were included in Likud Beytenu’s coalition agreement with Yesh Atid, though Yisrael Beytenu has included electoral reform in its platform for several Knessets.
A Yesh Atid spokeswoman said that the party calls for a comprehensive change in the government system that will lead to stability and governance, and it should be done in a way that will bring significant change.
“Electoral reform is a broad, serious topic that requires discourse with all the factions in the Knesset, academics, the legal system and the public, and it should not be done hastily,” the spokeswoman added.
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) accused Yisrael Beytenu MKs of trying to increase its power and prevent criticism and checks and balances.
“While he sits on the defendant’s dock and is even barred from being a minister in the government, [Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor] Liberman is brewing totalitarian legislation that suits his character and that of his party but does not match the values of the Independence Scroll and ideas of a Jewish, democratic state,” she said.
Yacimovich said both Yisrael Beytenu and Yesh Atid are parties setting a dangerous and increasingly common example, in that they are “lacking even the slightest hint of democracy and are ruled by one man without a democratic system or primaries.”
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On compared Liberman to Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying they both want to be strong leaders.
“In the name of government stability, Liberman and Likud Beytenu will make the prime minister even stronger compared to parties in the Knesset and increase the tyranny of the majority,” Gal-On stated. “As it is, the prime minister already has too much power in his hands.”
Gal-On suggested that instead of changing the system of government, the government’s members should be changed.
Shas MK Eli Yishai said there is no better example of why there should be a no-confidence motion against the government than Yisrael Beytenu’s proposal.
“There is no doubt that a law like this would be welcome in some countries in South America,” he quipped. “Some MKs need to take a course: “Introduction to democracy and civics.”