Weekly Commentary: Law Change Needed To Allow Party Heads To Fire MKs
Dr. Aaron Lerner 11 June 2022
Israel’s problem with renegade MKs did not start with the current ruling
coalition. We have witnessed for at least a quarter of a century how
individual MKs have blackmailed the system or defied their parties when
their support was needed on a tight vote over a critical matter.
We need to balance the need to end this chaos with the equally important
requirement that ending this chaos does not make it possible for a party
leader to hijack their party and betray their constituents.
The chaos can be ended by providing in the Basic Law that the head of a
party can, at the complete discretion of the party head, remove any MK from
their Knesset seat with a 24 hour warning.
The effective check on this power would be a provision that within those 24
hours the MK being removed can create a breakaway party of a third of the
MKs from the party or 3 MKs from the party, whichever is a greater number.
If a party head is trying to remove MKs as part of a move to pursue an
agenda diametrically opposed to the overall platform of the party, it is
reasonable to expect that the MK can successfully scramble to assemble
enough similarly minded MKs from the party in this 24 hour window of
opportunity to remain in the Knesset.
On the other hand, an individual MK would be very much aware that acting
against the interests of the party could readily jeopardize their seat.
It might be argued that a party head could be tempted to use this law to get
rid of their competitors in the party. But if a competitor can’t save their
skins in the 24 hour window they are not a serious competitor in the first
Israel is a parliamentary democracy without direct elections.
We had direct elections for the prime minister for a short period of time
and ever since then the parties have been closely identified with the person
heading the party.
So while we vote for party lists when we vote we most certainly focus on who
heads the party rather than who else may or may not get into the Knesset
depending on how many votes the list received.
That’s not to say that people vote blindly according to whoever is heading
the parties. People most definitely think and expect that the party they
are supporting is going to support certain positions and outlooks.
The law proposed above would end the chaos we have endured while protecting
us from party leaders who might exploit it to betray their constituents.
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