Knesset Air Freshener 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Just two years ago, the government system was one of the main issues on the
agenda during the elections for the 18th Knesset. Most of the parties, including
those in the coalition, repeatedly stated the need for a change. But no
serious, comprehensive proposal has yet been put forth.
Not only that,
but ever since the current government was formed, the need for this change has
only intensified. The passing of the biennial budget, the splitting and
establishing of new governmental offices for specific political needs, the
weakening of the Knesset as the legislative authority, the paralysis of the
Knesset’s status as the critical authority of the government since a fourth of
MKs serve in it, the reduction of the number of members on Knesset committees,
the changing of the ground rules for temporary political needs – all these are
just a few examples of some of the moves undertaken by the current Knesset which
illustrate the pressing need for changing the problematic government system and
legislating a better, more appropriate one.
Signs of destructive
influence are not only prevalent in the Knesset. Just recently, we all saw the
consequences of years of neglect of the fire fighting service – neglect which
manifested itself in the inability to control the Carmel fires.
of governmental stability and the failure to plan long-term were some of the
factors that contributed to the fact that, despite the writing on the wall, not
a thing was done to rehabilitate the fire fighting service.
We needn’t be
surprised. Just as no business would function properly for 20 years should its
manager be replaced 20 times, the Interior Ministry was unable to solve the
challenges facing the fire fighting services when 20 different ministers served
at its head over the past two decades. And this is just one office out of
The problems did not start during the current government. The
electoral system was always believed to be the main cause of the instability of
different governments and their lack of freedom to operate. But so far, we have
been unsuccessful in finding and promoting a better system. There was some
experimentation. Twice a prime minister was elected directly, but the
experiment failed and we quickly reverted back to the old system.
WHO oppose change argue that if we tried and failed, we needn’t try again. But
not only do the reasons we had for seeking a change still exist, it’s now become
even more urgent.
Contrary to what we hear from those who support it, the
current electoral system encourages polarization and radicalization. The reality
derived from the current system is one of extremism and segregation, in which
only governmental instability emerges.
We are told that we need to “let
all sectors have a voice,” but in practice we lead the representatives of these
sectors and subsectors to resort to extremism to win the support of their
electorates, because the emphasis is on highlighting the differences and not on
searching for unity.
There are ways to give representation to different
sectors in the framework of a system based on two or three big political
parties. In the US, they find representations in the two main parties and in
three parties in Britain, and it works. Major parties are a melting pot in which
sector representatives may not only aspire to represent, but also to lead the
There are several proposals for change, from a presidential
system to raising the threshold of regional elections. Either way, the
worst solution would be the status quo.
Not all the ills of the country
originated in the electoral system, but if we were to effect change, some of
them would disappear. And we cannot afford to miss that opportunity.
special committee with representatives from the bigger parties should be formed
as soon as possible; it would formulate and submit during the next Knesset
session a comprehensive proposal to change the government system.
understand that every method has its shortcomings, and we must search not for
the best method, but the one with the least amount of disadvantages.
we fail to do so, the current system and its ills will lead the state to a dead
end.The author is a member of Knesset and chairwoman of the Kadima