Open primaries are good for all Israelis and good for Israel

Every single Israeli will be able to vote in Zehut primaries, even if one is not a member of the party; even if one belongs to a different party.

Zehut Party leader Moshe Feiglin at an event of his party in Tel Aviv (photo credit: MOSHE BASOS)
Zehut Party leader Moshe Feiglin at an event of his party in Tel Aviv
(photo credit: MOSHE BASOS)
By now you all know that I am running for the Knesset with Zehut. But have you heard about Zehut’s open primaries? It’s going to be groundbreaking. This January 29 will mark the first-ever open primary election in the history of Israel.
That means that every single Israeli will be able to vote in our primaries, even if one is not a member of our party; even if one belongs to a different party.
And one won’t be required to vote for Zehut in the Knesset elections, unless one wants to. You get to decide the rank of each of the candidates on our list. It’s more transparent, more ethical and more democratic. In short, it’s everything that Israeli politics so badly needs!
Currently, the electoral candidates for the Knesset are decided either by a dictatorial decision on the part of the party leader or through internal primaries held within each party. These are closed primaries, in which only party members are allowed to vote. And these types of elections all too often degenerate into “deals” and rackets of all kinds.
With Zehut’s open primaries, there’s no room for tricks. The candidates address all the voters directly, without any middleman involved.
And since Israel is the Start-Up Nation, Zehut decided to take these elections online. This is another historical first in Israel.
This also solves one of the biggest problems with the current Israeli electoral system. Allow me to explain. Right now, in order to launch a political career in Israel and be elected to the Knesset, a candidate has no need to convince voters. Instead, one needs to win over his party leader and the members of his party’s central committee.
The result is that, currently, a Knesset member, regardless of what party he belong to, feels no obligation whatsoever toward the voting public, because it’s not the voters who got him elected. And it won’t be the voters who get him reelected either.
With Zehut, the candidates don’t campaign within their party – instead, they appeal directly to you, the voters.
Today, no one in Israel can refer to “his representative,” write to him or request a meeting, for the simple reason that no one actually has a representative of his own. We vote for a party list, not for a candidate.
This is another reason that the Israeli electoral system needs reform. Meanwhile, Zehut’s open primaries are the best alternative we have.
The writer is an economist, a businessman and a candidate for the 21st Knesset for the Zehut Party, founded by Moshe Feiglin. [email protected]