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Posts Tagged ‘primaries’

Will the Likud Remain Democratic?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

One piece of political news that probably went unnoticed to most, especially among all the coalition-negotiation rumors, was that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering cancelling the Likud’s primaries.

An article about this was first published on Jan. 28th,  just after the Knesset election on Israel’s Walla news site. Then, over the last few days it sprung up again in Ma’ariv/NRG and Yediot. Another Feb. 10 article in Ma’ariv claims that the Prime Minister intends to have the primaries cancelled before ministers are sworn into the government – that is, potentially in a matter of weeks.

To most people this is just internal party politics, but it’s really not. It directly affects the democratic nature of the State of Israel. In Israel, voters do not choose individual candidates, they choose slates. In effect, there are 120 legislators, but not a single representative. The candidates themselves are chosen via internal party processes – sometimes by a committee – a larger “central committee” or a smaller secretariat or selection committee – sometimes by the chairman, sometimes by the membership in an open primary. Those primaries are the only opportunity a citizen has to vote for an actual legislator, the only time a legislator directly faces a citizen and is held accountable for his record.

Unfortunately, only a few parties hold primaries. Likud and Labor do. This past election cycle, the Jewish Home held primaries, but only half of its list was chosen in the primaries, the rest by the central committee of T’kuma/the National Union. Kadima held primaries for its chairman, but cancelled its primaries for its list because it was expected to only get a maximum of 3 seats (in the end it got two). In total, about 42-3 Members of Knesset were chosen in primaries, meaning about  1/3rd of Knesset Members were chosen by actual people and not by party bosses. Even more unfortunate, is the fact that only a small percentage, something like three percent, of the public is eligible to vote in a party primary, and even less actually do vote.

But still it’s a start. If Israel won’t change over to a district-based electoral system (one representative per district), the only hope for the Members of Knesset being chosen by the people is through the primaries.

The alleged reason for cancelling primaries is, reportedly, that there are those who believe that the Likud’s list was too right-wing and that cost it votes and at the same time, not all party members voted for the party. Or in other words, the “settlers” registered to the party to push candidates like Tzipi Hotovely, Danny Danon, Ze’ev Elkin, Yariv Levin and Moshe Feiglin. The problem with that allegation is that there are many factions within the party who behave this way (like unions and members registered by vote contractors); there probably was a higher voting rate among settlers who were registered for the Likud then those who weren’t;  and of the 11 seats the Likud-Beytenu list lost from its prior standing the Knesset, seven mandates worth of votes went to the right. Any internal party player, especially the Prime Minister knows all this.

It is true though that the primaries are intensely manipulated – by the various factions/MKs/branch chairmen/vote contractors (vote contracting, as I have explained elsewhere refers to the practice of registering people to the party and then kind of bargaining with their votes for personal gain). This is a huge problem. But this manipulation can only take place because so few people are registered to the party. Many of them are registered by internal players, who can trade on their votes.

If, on the other hand, a million or 500,000 people  instead of 120,000 were registered to the Likud, and those people were registered by the party itself and not for any specific internal party player, it would be too hard for any vote contractor or even group, such as a union, to register and control the numbers necessary to manipulate the system. Vote contracting in its current powerful form, would be a thing of the past.

That would require an immense registration effort by the party over several years. That is very possible. In Israel, however, long term solutions, are not the preferred solutions. It’s easier and more seductive to maneuver one’s way to power, which in this case may mean canceling the primaries and concentrate power in the hands of an even smaller group of people.

No More Likud Primaries

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

PM Netanyahu said on Tuesday night, that he plans on canceling the primary system in the Likud, according to Channel 1.

Instead of Likud party members voting for which candidates they want to run for Knesset, it appears that Netanyahu wants to personally select and place each candidate.

Netanyahu’s message is that the party  list is what caused the Likud’s poor showing in the election, as opposed to his attacking his natural allies on the religious and the right, while not going after Yair Lapid at all, as well as the poorly organized and unfocused campaign that Netanyahu ran.

In Clever Nod to Right Wing Voters Bennett Says He’d Refuse Order to Uproot Jews

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Beit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett on Thursday night proved that he has what it takes to win big in national elections. In a statement regarding the evacuation of settlements in a future peace deal with the Palestinians, Bennet gave an answer that evoked a huge storm of protests and rebukes from—predictably—the left and—most revealingly—from Likud as well.

Bennett told a Channel 2 interviewer: “Should I receive an order to evacuate a Jew from his home and chase him away, my conscience will not permit it. I would ask my commanding officer to absolve me.”

When asked directly if this meant he would refuse an order from his military commander, Bennett said: “I’m sorry, I am incapable of entering a Jewish home and evacuating it.” Bennett also remarked that he “also wouldn’t want to evict an Arab from his home.”

Bennett then called on Israelis to vote for his party in order to influence the future government. He also denied claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would try to remove him from the coalition, because of their past disagreements. Bennett at one point served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff.

As was to be expected, the Labor party attacked Bennett’s statement. “This is an unfortunate and unacceptable statement even during the elections,” MK Eitan Cabel, head of the response team at Labor, told reporters. “Regardless of politics, on the left and on the right, refusing an order is crossing a red line that affects our ability to function as a society, and a statement by a public leader encouraging it is serious and totally illegitimate.”

The Kadima party, whose leaders Sharon, Olmert and Mofaz led the evacuation of some 10 thousand Gush Katif Jews in 2005, also condemned Bennett’s statement.

Just the condemnations from the left could suffice for an extra seat or so for the Beit Yehudi party, as its voters, many of whom live on the wrong side of the green line, which also cuts through Jerusalem, have been yearning for a legitimate leader who would say precisely these things – that an order to remove Jews from their homes has a black flag flying over it.

(Back in 1957, future Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Levi condemned the accused in the Kaffar Kassem massacre for obeying an illegal order which a black flag should have been waving over it, like a sign that declares: “Verbotten.”)

But the real bonus to Bennett and his party came last night and this morning from the Likud party, which has been hemorrhaging votes in the polls to the Beit Yehudi list.

Head of the Likud hasbara team, Minister Gilad Arden, told Walla! News that Bennett’s statement “Caused serious damage to the army, because the army is based on obeying orders.” Arden added: “As someone who is opposed to uprooting settlements, I think this position is also very harmful to right wing camp, because if you can justify conscientious objection in this case, what would stop Zehava Gal-On and leftist groups like The Courage to Refuse from encouraging soldiers not to serve in Judea and Samaria?”

Well, for one thing they’re already doing it – they hardly need an approval from Naftali Bennet. But, most importantly, Arden has stated for the record that—despite his stated opposition to dismantling settlements—he would support it once the order came down via the IDF chain of command.

If you’re a Likud voter living in Karnei Shomron – this should be reason enough for you to switch to Bennett.

Strategic Affairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, also attacked Bennett, adding his gravitas as former IDF chief of staff to the condemnation.

Except that Ya’alon himself did not receive an extension of his term as chief of staff right before the Gush Katif deportation, because his bosses in the Defense Ministry didn’t trust him to prosecute the evacuation with the necessary zeal.

Exposing Likud as being, essentially, just like Labor and Kadima regarding the dismantling of Jewish towns and villages, Naftali Bennett may have bitten another two or three seats off his rivals’ take. If he manages to weather this storm without apologizing – now would be a good time to take a page from the Liberman play book – Bennett could be the first National Religious leader to actually receive the bulk of the votes cast by National Religious Israelis.

Understanding Israel’s ‘Deal System’

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

This is part IV in a series about the Likud’s Knesset list and its primaries, which were held November 25-26th. The previous articles (here, here, and here) dealt with the claims by the media that the Likud had, as a result of the recent primaries shifted to the extreme right. I explained how these claims were out of touch with reality: The Likud list remained very similar to that of 2008. Ideologically right-leaning candidates did very well, but so did non-ideological or media-acceptable candidates.

All in all, only five sitting Members of Knesset did not achieve “secure” spots on the list. The common denominator between all three was not a lack of extremism or Leftist policy (only two were supporters of Palestinian statehood), but a general lack of campaigning and public activism.

One claim made by some commentators, however,  had some validity. It was that there was a “deal system” in place.

This is not unique to the Likud. It pervades the entire Israeli political system. Consider, for example, the fact that the government in Israel is formed through negotiations and haggling over ministries, budgets and policies. Contrast that with the U.S. system in which after the president is elected, he chooses his cabinet with the consent of the Senate and then presents a budget to congress for approval. There is much less haggling that goes on because the President has already one the election and his appointments can’t jeopardize that. Of course, negotiation, compromise and deals are inseparable from the political process, but in a party-list system, deal-making is the primary feature. (Note: a “party-list” system should not be confused with a parliamentary system, which can be a district/constituency system, a party-list system or a combination of the two).

The deal-making that some pundits referred to was the fact that certain candidates and power-factions in the Likud made cross-endorsement deals to ensure mutual success. Thus, for example, Moshe Feiglin and two high ranking, but non-ideological Likud members, Silvan Shalom and Yisrael Katz were reported to have made such an agreement. Gilad Erdan and Gideon Sa’ar were said to be working together. Other nationalist candidates like Yariv Levin and Kety Shitreet were also said to receive support from Feiglin.

Technically, candidates in a party primary are competitors, each one striving for more votes than the others in order to get a higher ranking on the party’s list of candidates for the parliament. Throughout most of their term, Members of Knesset in the same party are in fact locked in this sort of popularity contest. But come the primaries themselves, in practice, the candidates don’t remain in complete competition. At that point, candidates join together, either completely or to a limited degree, often in odd ways to ensure mutual success.

Because voters can choose a number of candidates – in the Likud primaries, voters could choose 12 national candidates and one district candidate – candidates can make cross-endorsement deals which will ensure those who are part of the deal receive a great deal more votes then they could have if they ran on their own.

Three voting lists distributed during the Likud primaries in Jerusalem. Close inspection reveals that the list of recommended candidates is different on each, meaning that the particular vote-contractor who distributed these gave large numbers of votes to more than 12 candidates, making him popular among a great many of the Likud’s list. These were just three I picked up off the floor at the end of the voting. Who knows how many different lists were distributed and what deals were made with whom for each set of votes given to each candidate.  

Let’s say, for instance, that Candidate A has 2000 supporters within the party, while Candidate B also has 2000, and Candidate C has 3000. Candidates A and B can join forces, asking their supporters to vote for both of them, providing each of them with 4000 votes, beating out Candidate C even though he is more popular than each of them separately. With a total of 12+1 votes, the possibilities for deals between the candidates abound. Add to the mix interest groups who control large swaths of votes, who can not only support certain candidates but can trade support with other interest groups or candidates in exchange for votes for their favored candidate, the system becomes vastly more complicated.

Likud’s First Lady: Adopt Levy Report, Expand Construction

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

The Likud’s highest ranking female candidate, MK Tzipi Hotovely called for the adoption of the Levy report and more construction in all parts of Israel at victory party last night in Or Yehuda, Israel, attended by hundreds of her supporters.

“Construction, construction, construction, in all parts of the country,” Hotovely declared.

In the recent Likud primaries Hotovely won the 10th spot on the Likud’s list, making her the highest ranking female candidate from the Likud party. On the joint Likud-Beytenu list, Hotovely has the 15th spot.

Hotovely said that her victory shows that clean and principled politics can win out and called on voters to support the Likud so that the Likud can follow through with its pro-Land of Israel agenda.

Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely, 34, is an attorney and a doctorate student at the Faculty of Law in Tel Aviv University. She is Orthodox and describes herself as “religious right winger.” When she was first elected, at the tender age of 30, she was the youngest MK in history. But she is also a staunch defender of women’s rights and chairs the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women.

Hotovely’s parents immigrated from then Soviet Georgia.

She began to gain notoriety in Israel in 2006, when she became a regular panelist on a Channel 10 political show hosted by Dan Margalit and began to write a column for NRG. After joining Likud in 2008, she made it to the 18th spot on the party’s 2009 Knesset list and became an MK. In the November primaries she reached the 10th spot, making her one of her party’s top leaders.

Her views on settlements and legitimizing Israeli rule in Judea and Samaria are expected to play a major role in the next Netanyahu government, along with Danny Danon, who has the sixth place position.

Yori Yanover contributed to this report.

Likud’s Pro-Settlements Shooting Star Hints He Wants Housing Ministry

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Likud Member of Knesset Danny Danon said on saturday night that in the next government, the ministry of housing and construction, which oversees and provides assistance for new construction, including in Judea and Samaria should be held by a Likud member.

To that end, voters should give the Likud as many mandates as possible, as that will make it easier for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep the portfolio within the party. It is currently held by Ariel Attias of the Shas party.

Danon’s comments were made at the Member of Knesset’s victory-Chanukah party in Rishon Letzion, which was attended by hundreds of Likud members and activists who supported Danon in recent Likud primaries.

Surprising many, Danon, who is considered one of the most nationalist members of the Likud, ranked fifth in the primaries among Likud candidates for the Knesset. After the merger of the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu’s list of candidate for the Knesset, Danon is number nine.

Normally, Knesset Members who rank so high in a party are considered for positions in the cabinet if the party forms or is part of the government.

Danon could be indicating what ministry he would prefer to hold in the next government.

However, despite his success in the recent primaries, Danon, has often clashed with Netanyahu, making it less likely that Netanyahu will offer him a ministry.

In addition, there has been speculation that Netanyahu will want to provide ministerial positions to Likud members who are part of the current government, but did not rank high in the Likud primaries. These include Minister of the Treasury Yuval Steinitz as well as several members who ranked so low in the Likud primaries they are not likely to appear in the next Knesset at all, Benny Begin, Michael Eitan and Dan Meridor.

Current Likud ministers, Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar, Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan, Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz, Minister for the Development of the Galilee and the Negev Silvan Shalom, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, all ranked in the top ten in the Likud’s primaries and are all expected to receive portfolios in the next government.

Results in from Labor Primaries

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Results are in from the Labor party primaries held on Thursday.

On Wednesday we published Shelly Yechimovitch’s blacklist of Labor party members she didn’t want to see high up in the party.  Three of them made the top five positions.

1. Shelly Yechimovitch
2. Isaac Herzog
3. Amir Peretz
4. Eitan Cabel
5. Meirav Michaeli
6. Binyamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer
7. Chilik Bar
8. Omar Bar Lev
9. Stav Shaffir
10. Avishai Braverman
11. Arel Margalit
12. Itzik Shmuli
13. Miki Rosental
14. Michal Biran
15. Nachman Shai
16. Moshe Mizrachi
17. Dani Atar
18. Nadia Hilo
20 Nino Absadza
21. Yossi Yona
22. Daniel Ben-Simon
23. Over Kornfeld
24 Chili Tropper

28. Yariv Oppenheimer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/labor-primary-results-are-in/2012/11/30/

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