Friday, May 08, 2015

The Israeli Political System Must Change

New Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked of Bayit HaYehudi (Jerusalem Post)
I feel like I am promoting the obvious. Israel needs to change the way its democracy works.

Their new government consists of a slim coalition cobbled together at the last minute by Prime Minister Netanyahu. And as one might expect there was a lot of horse trading going on where each member party got pretty much what it wanted.  The price for such a government is that it is not really a group united in service to its country. It is just a bunch of parties loosely tied together mostly interested in promoting their own agenda. In other words, the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.

He agreed to basically give in to all the self serving demands of each member party. Just to highlight a few of the more prominent perks given up by the Prime Minister to various parties for their support:

 UTJ (the Charedi parties) got a promise to immediately remove the prison penalty from Charedi draft dodgers (something they erroneously keep referring to as the penalty for studying Torah) and restore all the budget cuts that affected them.

Jewish Home got its wish to expand settlements and forward its annexation policy. And it got control of the Justice Ministry.

Kulanu won the Finance Ministry from which he will try and fulfill his campaign promise to reform Israel’s economy.

This goverment is in fact what I call a ‘camel’ which is what you get when a committee tries to put a horse together. And it could easily crumble if one of the coalition partners doesn’t like something the Prime minister did. In short the Israeli system of governance is an inefficient mess.

In my view they ought to change the entire system. And adopt the American model of 3 separate but equal branches of government.

The Executive branch would consist of the nation’s chief executive (as in America’s President) and would include his cabinet. Its members chosen directly by the leader (let us call him the President) and not be limited to members of the Keneset. The President would be elected directly by the people without the necessity of voting for his party. He would be given a 4 year term…  to be re-elected by the people for another 4 year term if the they so chose in a new election. He would be the Commander in Chief and have veto power over the Legislative branch.
The Legislative branch would be the Keneset. The duty of the Kenesset will be to pass legislation by majority vote. Which can be over ridden by a Presidential veto. But one that they could over-ride by a super majority.They consist of people from Israeli politcal parties and whose numbers will reflect the number of votes they received from the electorate (which is the way it is now.) In this way the Keneset will more accurately reflect the proportional will of the people. They  will be voted upon for ideological reasons instead of liking its party head for Prime Minster.  

The Judicial branch would be Israel’s Supreme Court. They can decide if laws that have already been passed are constitutional and eliminate laws that they say are not. 

Here off the top of my head are some of what I consider to be the obvious benefits of such a change.

1. It would stabilize the government.
2. People could then vote for their leader and then the party of their choice instead of voting for a party because that's the way they choose the PM.
3. There would be no sellouts by the PM in order to win power,
4. Political parties would no longer be able to blackmail a Prime Minister in order to get their support.
5. There would be more emphasis on the welfare of the whole country instead of each party pursuing their own agenda whereby their horse trading to join a coalition gives them more power than their numbers would have.
6. Candidates could run independently instead of being chosen by the party - thus making the leader truly a choice of the people.
7.The government could not be destroyed by a vote of no confidence by its coalition partners

Another thing I would change is the threshold for a political party to win a seat in the Keneset. That would essentially turn Israel into a 2 or 3 party system. Te little parties and their own little agendas would be wiped out. Future Presidential candidates would then generally come from one of those parties.

We have a beautiful system of checks and balances in America and there is no reason that Israel can’t have the same system thing. It is both a democracy and efficient.  Why they continue to insist on their inefficient system is beyond me.