Yesh Atid, Bayit Yehudi spar over electoral reforms

Knesset Law Committee debate ministers-without-portfolio, one portfolio per minister clause of proposed bill.

Ronen Hoffman (photo credit: Courtesy Knesset)
Ronen Hoffman
(photo credit: Courtesy Knesset)
A debate in the Knesset Law Committee on Monday over a relatively minor clause in a proposed electoral reform bill indicated how difficult it will be for the reforms to pass.
The clause in the bill proposed by MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) and committee chairman MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu) says that there will be no more ministers-without-portfolio and no minister will hold more than one portfolio.
The goal of the clause is to indirectly limit the number of ministries and minimize government waste.
MKs in Bayit Yehudi, whose leader Naftali Bennett holds three portfolios, complained that the clause would make the government less stable without actually saving money for taxpayers.
“This is all a game,” Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Struck said.
“The bill won’t result in there being less salaries and functionaries. All that is needed to limit the number of ministries is the element of shame.”
When Struck, who lives in Hebron, said she actually opposed the bill but would vote in favor due to coalition discipline, Labor MK Miki Rosenthal told her, “There is no gun to your head and no Taser.”
Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar defended the bill, saying it is “wrong for one man to head two ministries” and that ministries- without-portfolio are an unnecessary “invention for coalitions” with no real benefit.
Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) said ministers- without-portfolio are a necessary evil to keep small parties happy inside the coalition and enable the Knesset to function.
“They might look bad to the public, but they ease political pressure and make it easier to get things done,” Levin said.
On another clause in the bill limiting the number of deputy ministers to four, MK Dov Henin (Hadash) recalled that when he was education minister, Yossi Sarid referred to his deputy minister from Shas, Meshulam Nahari, as “the potted plant in the corner.”
“There shouldn’t be any deputy ministers,” Henin said. “They have nothing to do but meander in frustration.
At best they’re plants which know where they belong and at worst plants with no place at all.”