A bill submitted by MK Israel Eichler’s (United Torah Judaism) lowering the Knesset threshold vote from 3.25% to 1.5% has been tabled by the ministerial committee on legislative affairs pending a review. According to Globes, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar who chairs the committee is interested in taking this bill to a preliminary vote in the Knesset. In a political environment where coalition and opposition parties regularly vote down each other’s bills, this is something to write home about.
The threshold percentage is the minimum percentage of votes required to win representation in parliament. As of March 2014, Israel’s threshold in voting for the Knesset stands at 3.25% of all the legal votes counted in a given election.
The 2015 election that followed the sharp increase in the threshold saw the loss of about 190,000 votes given to parties that did not pass the threshold. Another disheartening outcome was the creation of the Joint Arab List, with four parties that had nothing in common other than being Arab and fearing extinction. The new faction won 13 seats, making it one of the most powerful in the Knesset.
Minister Sa’ar’s New Hope party is scratching the threshold from the wrong side in recent polls, so, clearly, for him passing a more lenient limit is an existential matter. Yamina is facing a similar fate. In the committee meeting, Meretz chairwoman Minister Tamar Zandberg also favored going with the 1.5%. In fact, only two parties stand to lose from lowering the limit: Likud and Yesh Atid. It should be interesting to watch the Knesset becoming divided not along the traditional coalition vs. opposition divider, but as sharks vs. guppies.
In order to pass, the bill requires at least 61 votes, which means that should it encounter the slightest opposition, its chances of surviving are very slim.