PM supports open vote for president
MK Sa'ar: Transparency will make vote victim of coalition and partisan politics.
By SHEERA CLAIRE FRENKEL, GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
October 23, 2006 20:37
2 minute read.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Monday that he supports a bill to change the election for president to an open vote.
The current vote is conducted in the Knesset by a secret ballot. A new bill presented by MK Yoram Marciano (Labor) and Yoel Hasson (Kadima) would amend the Basic Law on the president to an open vote.
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"I believe that a secret ballot vote allows MKs to settle accounts and political intrigues that do not necessarily contribute to the office of president. Selecting a president is something that should be done openly. I don't think it is right that the Knesset would not have the courage to declare openly who they support for such an important position. Voting openly will help restore the respect for the presidency and guarantee that whoever is chosen will be worthy of the public support of the MKs."
MK Gideon Sa'ar, the Likud's faction whip, opposes the proposal which he said was aimed at taking away Knesset members' freedom to vote.
"This type of transparency will only make the vote yet another victim of coalition and partisan agreements," said Sa'ar.
Olmert has refused to announce his support of a particular candidate for president, stating Monday that he would "not deal with the identity of candidates for president as long as there is a president who is still serving."
The bill, however, is thought to work in favor of Vice Premier Shimon Peres (Kadima), who has not yet announced his candidacy but has been working behind the scenes to garner support.
If Peres runs, he will have to contend with fellow MKs Colette Avital (Labor) and Reuven Rivlin (Likud) who have officially announced their candidacy and have begun openly meeting with party heads.
Sources close to Peres have said that he is hesitant to announce his candidacy until he feels assured of the Knesset's support.
Five years ago, Peres was the front-runner for the race for president but lost to Moshe Katsav when the latter managed to secure the support of the Shas Party.
On Monday, Shas officials said they would not publicly support a candidate until the current president, Moshe Katsav, officially resigns from the position. Behind the scenes, the party was split between supporting Rivlin or Peres.
Avital was also said to have met with Shas officials in order to secure their support.
"We have never had a problem with a female candidate," said a Shas spokesman. Avital also met with Olmert Monday, but was unable to convince the prime minister to give her a public statement of support.
Meanwhile on Monday, Vice Premier Shimon Peres met with the Pensioners faction, although Pensioners' MK Elhanan Glazer said the presidential issue was not raised in the meeting. He said Peres only talked about his "Peace Valley" plan for economic cooperation with the Jordanians and Palestinians.
"I don't think describing his elaborate plans was election propaganda," Glazer said. "If anything, it was the opposite, because if he is elected president, he would not be able to complete such important projects." Peres's spokesman said he would continue talking to MKs about "Peace Valley" and not about the presidency.
Meanwhile, Rivlin has asked to meet with the Pensioners to request their support for his candidacy.