Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
MK Benny Gantz, June 25, 2023.

National Union Party Chairman Benny Gantz on Tuesday submitted a bill that could change the Knesset election system on two conditions: 1. If party bosses were willing to give up their power; and 2. If anyone in the coalition was willing to pay attention to Benny Gantz’s suggestions. So, never.


According to the bill, a party will be able to allow its voters to rank the list of candidates on the election form itself. It would be a “semi-open ballot,” which allows for some democratization of the election process, without exposing parties to what Gantz refers to as the corruption of the primaries.

Needless to say, Gantz, himself has never been picked through a primary process. Neither has his former coalition partners, Yair Lapid and Avigdor Liberman. In other words, even if the primaries in the Likud, Labor, Religious Zionism, and Meretz are “corrupt,” pitting party apparatchiks against one another with promises, favors, and back-stabbing – they are democratic, while Gantz et al are dictators.

But enough with mudslinging. The bill is uncommonly stupid even without my ridicule. Here goes: the bill changes the ballot form in Israel – only for the interested parties. Parties that wish to keep their old ballot, namely the Hebrew letters that represent their slate, may do so.

The new ballot will detail the names and order of the candidates, offering voters two choices: one, to vote for the list of candidates as it appears on the ballot; and two, vote by marking up to five candidates on the list, awarding them points toward a high ranking once all the votes are counted. Once you marked one name on the party’s ballot, your vote counts in favor of this party. But you can change the order of slate as you see fit by picking five lucky names.

Gantz argued that the semi-open ballot will formalize Israel’s personal politics, which is getting stronger anyway, and integrate it into the arena of inter-party politics. “This will be done while strengthening the overlap between the candidate’s personal success and the success of the list of candidates, so that a candidate who wants to gather votes for himself will have to first of all act for the benefit of the list as a whole – in contrast to competing in the primaries, where the candidates act for their own personal benefit only, against other candidates and not for the benefit of the party.”

Sanctimonious? You bet. Utterly hopeless in a primary vote environment where party bosses reserve the right to add a limited number of outside candidates to the slate to maintain their control? Absolutely. There’s one saving grace in Gantz’s recognition (OK, not Gantz, but the people who write his stuff) of the emerging personal politics. Will that someday lead to a vote by districts rather than by ideological parties? Oh, well, one can hope.

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David writes news at