Livni vows to change 'unstable' electoral system

The prime minister should not be able to be toppled except in very rare exceptions, Livni says.

elections2009_248 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni took a break Tuesday from her usual statements about toppling Hamas and advancing the diplomatic process to address another challenge Israel is facing: the unstable electoral system. Speaking to a packed audience of more than 1,000 people at a Jerusalem wedding hall, Livni said that the first bill she would pass in the next Knesset would be what she called "the stability law." The bill would change the current system that allows a prime minister to be toppled in a no-confidence vote with the support of 61 MKs who all support the same replacement candidate. Livni would up the MKs needed to overthrow a prime minister to 80. "The prime minister should not be able to be toppled except in very rare exceptions," Livni said. "The government cannot be switched every day. After I pass this bill, I will begin dialogue with all the parties in order to change the electoral system for real." Kadima's platform on the party's Web site says that the changes would be brought to a vote within 120 days after a Kadima-led government is formed. Livni initiated a Kadima task force several months ago to write the party's electoral reform platform. "The law would allow the government to last four years, except in rare exceptions and allow the prime minister to concentrate on running the country and not on guaranteeing his political survival," the platform on the Web site says. Kadima began the process of changing the electoral system in the outgoing Knesset via maneuvers led by Knesset Law Committee chairman Menachem Ben-Sasson. But most of the changes were not brought to a vote due to the opposition of Shas, which, as a coalition party, could block changes to Basic Laws. Besides the change in the procedure for no-confidence votes that Livni mentioned on Tuesday, Ben-Sasson's package included raising the electoral threshold; a limit on the number of ministers; the leader of the largest faction automatically becoming prime minister, and the so-called Norwegian Law, by which ministers quit the Knesset but return to the parliament if they quit the cabinet. Sources close to Livni said it was likely that she would endorse all the changes advanced by Ben-Sasson. Ben-Sasson said that for the electoral reforms to pass, the new prime minister would have to make clear that the changes were a life-and-death matter. "Were it not for the war in the Gaza Strip, all the parties would be talking about electoral reform now," Ben-Sasson said. "The fact that Livni is talking about it when it is not in style says something about her." Meanwhile, Livni met on Tuesday with several former generals and security officials who endorsed her candidacy. The list included former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy and former IAF commander Eitan Ben-Eliahu.