Proposal requiring super-majorities to bring down gov't faces trouble

Likud sources say PM to face staunch opposition among senior members of his own party.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
May 17, 2009 23:25
2 minute read.
Proposal requiring super-majorities to bring down gov't faces trouble

netanyahu stresses point 248 88. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will face staunch opposition among senior members of his own party who fear that his proposed legislative change to require super-majorities to bring down the government is anti-democratic and chips away at the strength of the Knesset, sources within the Likud Knesset faction said Sunday. Almost two weeks ago, MK Yohanan Plesner wrote a letter to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin in which he expressed his concern regarding the government's proposals, including one to change the Basic Law: Knesset concerning no-confidence votes to dissolve the Knesset. Currently, a majority of 61 votes is required, but according to the proposal, 65 votes would be the minimum required to push the country to elections. Plessner noted that the legislation was intended to increase governmental stability, but that it also "suppresses elements of pluralism in the Knesset" by reducing the power of the opposition to check the coalition. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin responded over the weekend to Plessner's letter, saying that "as a matter of principle, I agree that legislative initiatives that are designed exclusively to enable the survival of the government and to make it more difficult to switch it do not simply not help the governing of Israel, but actually eat away and weaken it in the long term." "I am inclined to think that the rules of the game should not be changed in the midst of the game, and that changes to governing principles should not be carried out immediately, but rather initiated at the opening of the next Knesset." Rivlin did note that regarding the specific issues raised by Plessner, that "even if my thoughts are in accordance with yours, I cannot address initiatives that have yet to arrive on my desk." Sources within the Likud said Sunday that it was possible that the legislation might be stalled before it even reached Rivlin, as at least one - and most likely two - Likud ministers staunchly oppose the legislation for the reasons cited by Plesner. Furthermore, a Rivlin confidant said the speaker himself is uncomfortable with the legislation and should it reach the Knesset, he would work to block its approval. Since the Knesset reconvened two weeks ago, Likud members have attempted to advance initiatives that would strengthen the government's stability within the often-fractious parliament. In addition to the initiative mentioned by Plesner, the party has also pushed forward the so-called part-Norwegian system, which would allow one rank-and-file MK to fill in a spot vacated by a serving minister. Currently, the coalition - which includes 40 ministers and deputy ministers - has found it difficult to juggle the many committee seats meant to be held by rank-and-file MKs. In addition, they have tried to push forward a change that would reinstate the right of deputy ministers to also vote in committees.

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