Opposition Leaders Call Electoral Reform Anti-Democratic

YERUSHALAYIM -

Opposition leaders chose their first issue on which to fight Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s third government, denouncing its agenda of election reform at a conference at the Knesset on Tuesday.

The coalition agreement calls for raising the threshold of representation in the Knesset from 2 percent to 4 percent, which would eliminate the smallest parties, and thereby, according to its proponents, would make Israel easier to govern.

However, MKs from several parties gathered to declare their intention to fight the measure on the grounds it is anti-democratic.

Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) participated, a continuation of his long-standing position against the proposed reform.

“There is a reason the founding fathers decided that the electoral threshold should be low,” he explained. “The logic was to allow as many opinions and stances in Israeli society as possible to be represented in the Knesset, since we are so varied and divided. The Knesset prevented civil wars in the past, because of its ability to represent all of the opinions in the nation, and we must preserve that.”

Rivlin also warned that denial of representation would provoke some people to take to the streets to make their voices heard.

United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said, “Raising the threshold is anti-democratic, especially on the timetable [they’ve set]. We will not allow the government to act aggressively and in contravention of Knesset procedure.”

Rabbi Gafni further noted that “we have succeeded” in postponing the budget vote, and that he was hopeful the opposition would succeed on the electoral reform issue too. “Today’s conference symbolizes the continuation of our struggle.”

“Raising the electoral threshold endangers democracy,” Dov Hanin (Hadash) said. “Small parties do not threaten stability. They do not have corrupt primaries. They do not bring people lacking values and principles into politics. The opposite is true.”

Also present were opposition lawmakers of Labor and Meretz.