With the return of Knesset members for the plenum’s winter session this week, the question of early elections is on the minds of many MKs – and among the election-related issues to be discussed will be the lowering of the election threshold. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to lobby both members of his coalition, as well as opposition MKs, to garner support for his proposal to reduce the threshold by half a percent.
The threshold currently requires a party to get 3.25 percent of all votes in order to get seats in the Knesset; that percentage works out to about four seats. Under Netanyahu’s proposal, the threshold would be lowered to allow parties that get 2.75 percent of all votes to qualify for Knesset representation, allowing for three-member party representation.
Netanyahu floated the idea to coalition members, telling them that it would only go through if all of them supported it. Ha’aretz said that Netanyahu has been discussing the idea with officials of the various coalition members privately in recent weeks. The most likely beneficiary of the move would be Shas, which has been teetering on the threshold in recent polls. According to Ha’aretz, however, Shas head Aryeh Deri is opposed to the move. Another likely beneficiary would be former Shas head Eli Yishai, whose Yachad party missed getting into the Knesset by just a few hundred votes in the last election. In previous discussions with United Torah Judaism, the report said, that party too has expressed opposition to the change.
However, it appeared that numerous opposition MKs supported the idea, coalition sources told Maariv. MK Miki Zohar, head of the Knesset Control Committee, told the newspaper that “the chances for the change are pretty good, because there is relatively widespread support for the idea in the opposition. Based on my examination of the situation, MKs in Meretz and a large number of Zionist Camp MKs support it.”
Meretz head Tamar Zandberg said that she had told Likud officials that her party supported the concept. “We explained to them that we do support as wide a representation of Knesset parties as possible, and that means lowering the election threshold. But that does not mean that we see ourselves cooperating with Netanyahu to ensure the success of a rightwing coalition,” she added.