Lapid: I won’t join gov’t without electoral reform


Yesh Atid leader gives policy speech focused on returning stability to governance, slams Shas for selling out taxpaying soldiers. PHOTO: EFRAT SA’AR
“We won’t sit with a government that does not agree” to reform the governmental structure in ways which will stabilize governance, said Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid on Wednesday in another policy speech at the Citizens Empowerment Center of Israel in Tel Aviv.

In a speech following immediately after the reelection of US President Barack Obama, Lapid praised the American system of government in which the president is elected only once every four years and cannot be blackmailed by smaller parties who threaten to vote no confidence in the years in between.

The Yesh Atid party leader also criticized the explosion in the number of cabinet ministers and deputy ministers to 35, three of who have no portfolio.

Lapid cited several examples of European countries where there are fewer than half as many cabinet ministers.

He also slammed what he called the disconnect between ministers and any measure of accountability to the general public.

Lapid accused Minister of Housing Ariel Atias of “tossing the Trachtenberg Report” in the garbage in order to favor his narrow Shas voter constituency, rather than helping those who have “served as soldiers and pay their taxes.”

The current system inherently sets off “sectoral divisions” and the idea that the current system is based on does not make sense, said Lapid.

Besides the problem of what he called the sectoral nature of Israeli elections in preventing accountability to the public as group, Lapid also said that the problematically high number of ministers made it impossible for citizens to come to a single address to solve specific problems.

The Yesh Atid party leader gave examples in which absurdly simple issues could only be solved by consulting up to seven different ministries.

Lapid said that the current government structure engenders “corruption which corrupts the entire state.”

To address the various problems, Lapid proposed three main changes.

First, he said that only the head of the party with the most Knesset mandates should be able to form a government.

Although the party-head would still need to negotiate somewhat with the smaller parties, the party-head would be more able to stand-up to blackmail and less of a need to offer the small parties the best deal since the party-head would be assured of being prime minister in any case.

In the last Knessset, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu became prime minister by having a larger block of parties supporting him, even though former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni garnered slightly more mandates.

Second, he said that the cut-off for parties to be able to sit in the Knesset should be raised from two percent of the vote to six percent of the vote.

This would return Israel to a state where the largest party would have at least 40-45 seats and would find it easier to govern without “selling out” to the smaller parties.

Last, Lapid said that only a vote of 70 Knesset members should be able to bring on early elections. This would ensure that more governments would serve out their terms, which would allow individual ministers to accomplish more.

He said that there have 11 ministers of education in the last 20 years, preventing any real achievements in education.

Asked by The Jerusalem Post during the question and answer session how he would ensure these reforms would occur when polls have limited Yesh Atid to being at most a medium size party in the next Knesset, Lapid did not answer directly.

He did respond that the idea that the few parties like his which try to represent the entire nation are smaller is exactly part of the problem and that enacting the reform will empower centrist parties looking for the good of the country as a whole.

Separate from the issue of changing the structure of government, Lapid also said that the state “needs a constitution to define religion-state issues and questions of the relationship between the citizen and the state.”

“All of this is possible and simple, we’ll put this in any agreement” of any government we join, said Lapid.

Top party leaders, Herzliya Mayor Yael German and former Israel Security Agency head Yaakov Perry, also attended the event and said that Lapid’s strong support for reform on these issues was one of the reasons they joined Yesh Atid.

Lapid also took the opportunity to double-down on his criticism of Netanyahu, who he said “gambled” by “taking Romney’s side” in the American elections.

He said Netanyahu and Romney have some of the main key donors and that Netanyahu must now “fix” any damage he caused in his relations with the Obama administration.

The center holding the event has published a similar plan for reforming the governmental structure, although its plan also includes a fourth point in favor of connecting the national and local election processes.

A Yesh Atid spokesperson said it was in favor of this point as well, but viewed it as a later goal to achieve after first achieving the initial more critical three points of reform.

November 7, 2012 | 2 Comments »

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  1. sorry sonny you are not the choice maker. the winner invites as needed. what do you have to offer? what post would you demand? you have no experiance as a person letalone as a leader.