Herzog calls on PM, Livni to raise electoral threshold

In letter to the heads of the 2 largest parties, Labor MK says bill should be drafted requiring 4% of vote for party to enter Knesset.

Herzog 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Herzog 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Labor leadership candidate Isaac Herzog called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Monday to join forces with Labor in an effort to raise the threshold for entering the Knesset.
Currently only 2 percent of the vote is needed for a party to enter the Knesset with three seats. In a letter to Livni and Netanyahu, the heads of the two largest parties, he called for the three parties to draft a bill doubling the threshold to 4%. (It was 1% before 1992 and 1.5% from 1992–2003.)
“Such a bill would guarantee that the next Knesset would have fewer factions and would contribute to the strengthening of the large parties,” Herzog wrote. “It would also deter splitting into factions that would not pass the threshold.
Most importantly, the bill would guarantee that the next government would have fewer factions, which would decrease the coalition extortion that exists today.”
In the letter, Herzog referred indirectly to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Independence faction, which split off from Labor and which polls show would have a difficult time passing the current threshold.
Herzog told the Labor faction on Monday that the party should unite behind his effort to raise the threshold. But faction chairman Eitan Cabel and MK Shelly Yacimovich, Herzog’s rival for the Labor leadership, immediately said they opposed his idea.
Raising the threshold is one of several ideas being considered by a committee on electoral reform, made up of representatives of parties in the coalition and led by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who is close to Netanyahu.
Shas, United Torah Judaism and Habayit Hayehudi strongly oppose raising the threshold. A spokesman for Independence faction head Einat Wilf said her faction was in favor doing so in stages.
Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem also proposed an electoral reform maneuver on Monday, submitting a bill that would enable a candidate who has been convicted of a crime to run for prime minister.
Asked whether he was referring to his party chairman, Avigdor Lieberman, who is currently under investigation, he expressed hope that Lieberman would not be convicted, but said the bill could apply to former ministers Tzachi Hanegbi and Aryeh Deri.