Michael Boyden
Michael Boyden

Enough of this madness

As Israelis prepare to go to the polls for the fourth round of elections in two years, no one knows who if anyone will be able to form a government, or whether we will end up having to return to the voting booths once again in a few months’ time.

What is no less frustrating is that, even when all of the votes will have been counted and we shall know how many seats each of the parties will have in the next Knesset, we still won’t necessarily know what will be the constitution of our next government.

If a government is formed at the end of the day — and that of itself is unclear — it will only be as a result of horse-trading between the different parties, which may also involve approaching various Knesset members and bribing them to swop allegiances in return for plum jobs.

Last time around we were left with a government comprising close to 40 ministers and deputy ministers as the price that had to be paid to meet the coalition demands of each party.

Each government minister costs the exchequer around 5 million shekels per annum. What an appalling waste of money!

This time around, no less than 37 parties will be competing in the elections. Up to 13 of them will comprise the next Knesset, but up to four of those may not pass the election threshold of 3.25% and their votes will go to waste.

Party List Proportional Representation, which is the electoral system employed in South Africa, Brazil as well as in Israel, may sound very democratic in principle, but in practice, it is a disaster. There could not be clearer evidence of such than the mess in which Israel finds itself.

The solution is obvious. Raise the voting threshold to 10% and only four or five of the current political parties will survive. Raise it to 15% and there will only be two or three parties. Then we shall at least know who won the election and will end up with a considerably more stable government than under the present system.

However, there is just one problem: There are too many political parties who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. It is destroying our country and threatens the very democracy that we all profess to favor.

About the Author
Rabbi Boyden was educated and received his rabbinical ordination in London, England. Having served as the rabbi of Cheshire Reform Congregation for thirteen years, he made aliyah with his family in 1985. He has established Reform congregations in Ra'anana and Hod Hasharon and previously served as director of the Israel Reform Movement's Beit Din.
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