Israel mulls electoral system changes

Monday, February 16, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Israel has been considering alternative electoral systems for decades, but it appears last week's election has significantly advanced the issue.

Kadima pulled out a narrow victory in the election by winning 28 seats, which makes it the smallest largest Knesset faction in the state's history.

With a wide variety of parties holding enough seats to effectively disrupt the ruling coalition, the next government is not expected to break the 20-year streak of Israeli governments failing to serve out a full term.

The three top parties this year - Kadima, Likud and Israel Beiteinu - all support major electoral reform to one degree or another.

Likud is open to the idea, though not all members are on board and would prefer to maintain as much of the current system as possible.

Kadima has expressed interest in a partial representative system that would see half of the Knesset's 120 seats decided in direct regional elections.

Israel Beiteinu is interested in the most sweeping changes, including nearly total representative Knesset elections, and a complete separation of the legislature and the executive, along the lines of the US system.

While the US electoral system is viewed by most Israelis as a positive upgrade to the current system, legal experts have warned that it is not viable until Israel finally drafts an official constitution.

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