Letter to the Editor: Toby F. Block
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Letter to the Editor: Toby F. Block

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As things stand now, everyone should expect the November 1st election to end in a stalemate. It’s insane to keep doing things the same way and expect the results to be different.

If at all possible, the Israelis should raise the election threshold (the percentage of the total votes cast needed to obtain the minimum four seats) for participation in the newly elected Knesset.

Pulling a stable coalition together will be far easier if two parties can each garner 25 or more seats. Even if those parties need a third to obtain the 61-seat majority, the third party will not be in a position to make unreasonable demands by threatening to pull out of the government. The two larger parties should be able to find a new partner easily.

Once a government is set up, the Knesset should, early on, work to implement true change in the electoral system. The current process is plagued by a large number of short-lived parties. The largest party in Naftali Bennett’s coalition held only 17 seats.

Half of the parties in the coalition had been in existence for 10 or fewer years, and the breadth of political views represented guaranteed that the coalition hammered out was unlikely to conform to the desires of most of the voters who cast their ballots for any constituent party.

It should require time and effort for a party to be organized, so that its members will not rush to abandon it. Each party should publish its platform, obtain a specified number of signatures of registered voters before it is allowed to stand for election, and strive to serve its constituents’ needs (at least partly because voters will abandon it unless it lives up to its promises).

Israel might also consider following the lead of New Zealand, a country similar in size to Israel which went from a long history of being ruled by coalitions to having one party garnering a true majority in Parliament when it made two changes to the electoral process.

Parties were required to participate in public debates, followed by public opinion polls. Parties judged unlikely to pass the election threshold were required to sit out the current election. In addition, some seats in Parliament were designated to represent specific districts in the country.

Candidates for those seats faced off against each other, just as American candidates for President, Senator, or Congressional Representative do.

Toby F. Block, Atlanta

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