The Knesset passed into law on Tuesday a measure that will restrict representation in the legislature to parties that win at least 3.25 percent of the total vote, or approximately four seats.
If elections were held today and results were similar to recent polls, Kadima, headed by Shaul Mofaz, would be non-existent, and Tzipi Livni’s Tnuah party would either join it in the political graveyard or at best be standing at the edge of the cemetery.
The Arab parties will be forced to unite or disappear, and the likes of Baruch Marzel can kiss their Knesset futures goodbye. The only thing that could save Marzel, his cohorts Itamar Ben-Gvir and former Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad, would be another mass expulsion of Jews, God forbid.
The law passed by a 67-0 unanimous vote, which was astonishing on two counts. First, no one in the coalition voted against it, for the simple reason there are two other laws slated for a vote this week, and the coalition parties wisely agreed to join forces and support them all rather than risk a nasty fight on the floor and a strikeout.
The other astonishing event, even for Israel’s three-ring circus Knesset, is that the Opposition parties boycotted the vote even though the Opposition leader once supported the same legislation.
Opposition leader Yitzchak “Bogie” Herzog once supported the same proposal, but he complained on Tuesday that the coalition government is steamrolling the democratic process by staging three votes on major bills in one week, restricting a proper debate.
Labor should be renamed the Loser party, or perhaps the Crybabies party.
The other two votes this week are on the universal draft, which is aimed at the Haredim while leaving Arabs off the hook, and a bill to make part of the Basic Law a provision that any surrender of land under Israeli sovereignty would require a national referendum before a peace agreement could be concluded.
If the referendum bill passes, that means the Knesset cannot decide on its own to surrender one inch of land in all of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as well as any other areas that Israel might annex in the future.
Tuesday’s vote was on what is called the “Governance Bill,” which not only increases the minimum vote needed for party representation in the Knesset, but also limits the size of the Cabinet to 18 ministers.
The number of votes a party needs to enter the Knesset is the most controversial part of the bill, and Jewish Home Knesset Member Nissan Slomiansky warned that it could backfire on some parties who are riding the crest of popularity today but forget that every day is topsy-turvy Purim in Israeli politics.
Slomiansky is a long-time veteran of the old National Religious Party, which won only three Knesset seats in the elections in 2006.
Meretz also once had only three seats, but it can be argued that the new limits will encourage some people to vote for a certain party. Even if they are not enthusiastic about a certain party, they might not want to see the party lose out altogether.
The previous threshold of 2 percent for party representation made a mockery of democracy, giving every weirdo a shot at succeeding in gaining 60,000 or so votes and becoming a legislator, even if the party’s platform is wacky or simply political impossible.
In many Western countries, the minimum required for seats in the legislature varies from 4 percent in Austria and Sweden to 5 percent in Belgium and Germany
In the last Israeli elections, the perennial Marijuana “Green Leaf” party won 13,000 voters who essentially threw their ballots in the garbage can.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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