Some MKs advise Brits to adopt Israeli electoral system

MK Yohanan Plessner: "Going to proportional representation would be the worst mistake England could make."

May 12, 2010 22:50
2 minute read.
David Rotem.

David Rotem 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )


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The United Kingdom should adopt Israel’s system of proportional representation for parliamentary elections, MKs said on Wednesday, endorsing the position of new British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Clegg’s Liberal Democrats ran on a platform of changing Britain’s constituency-based political system and adopting proportional representation. In the May 6 race, Clegg’s party won only 57 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons (less than 9 percent), despite winning 23% of the vote.

Knesset Law Committee chairman David Rotem, whose committee deals with electoral reforms, said that after British Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party formed an Israeli-style coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, Britain should also adopt proportional representation and other elements of the Israeli system.

Rotem, who studied in London and whose brother lives there, advised Britain to set an electoral threshold to prevent small parties from entering the parliament, as Israel did. He said both Israel and Britain should hold direct elections for prime minister, as Israel did in 1996, 1999 and 2001.

“What happened to the Liberal Democrats in Britain [last week] and Al Gore in the United States [in 2000] is unfair,” Rotem said. “Adopting proportional representation and electing leaders directly would prevent this from happening.”

Rotem said he was unconcerned about the power of Clegg, despite his condemnation of Operation Cast Lead and his call for a British arms embargo on Israel.

“I am not worried about a deputy prime minister,” Rotem said. “After all, ‘Bogie’ [Moshe Ya’alon of the Likud] is our vice premier, [and he is powerless].”

Kadima’s Yohanan Plessner, who is the only MK born in England, said he was glad the British people obtained the change in power that they wanted. He called Cameron “young, full of new ideas, and committed to Israel.”

Plessner made aliya with his family from London’s Hampstead neighborhood as a baby and then lived in the neighborhood again for two years when he was in his mid-20s and worked as a consultant to top international companies. He advised Britain against adopting proportional representation.

“Britain has a system that has worked for decades,” Plessner said.

“Going to proportional representation would be the worst mistake they could make. The current system is much more stable. The British should not divide into groups and subgroups like we have here.”

Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz, a former Channel 10 foreign news editor, said if he were British, he would have voted Labor because of its social policies. He said the best political system for Britain would be to elect half of Parliament the way it does now and the other half with proportional representation, as is done in Germany.

“With their current system, the makeup of Parliament does not represent the will of the people,” Horowitz said. “The Israeli system is more democratic and represents the voice of the people, perhaps even too much. A combination of the two would be the best balance for Britain.”

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