Should Israel adopt a presidential system like in the US

By Ted Belman (please pardon the overlap to Jerry’s post below.)

I have been considering proposals for constitutional reform in Israel. Recently I posted Coalition builds for regional elections which reported on a government movement to have constituency elections for 30 to 60 of the total 120 Knesset seats.

Now I read New electoral reform movement Shelanu launches plan to directly elect 120 MKs. They argue

    “We believe it likely that a hybrid system would produce negative results that would retain the divisive nature of [the current system of] proportional representation,” Jaffe said. “[Electing MKs] should be a hiring process in which every MK is individually accountable to a real, identifiable constituency.”

    [..] “Electing 30 MKs in direct regional elections would be a joke,” Jaffe said. ‘Mixing the two very different systems wouldn’t work, because there would be two conflicting principles in action. The Knesset members elected in different ways would be accountable to two different entities.’

Furthermore they argue

    Besides direct regional elections, the reforms Shelanu supports include separation of the legislative branch from the executive through a presidential system and elimination of the direct involvement of sitting members of the judiciary in the appointment of Supreme Court justices.

Their goals are perfectly in line with Prof. Paul Eidelberg’s ideas set out in Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

In response to some significant resistance to the Presidential system it was argued

    … but he is terribly distrustful of the unitary executive system which calls for a presidential chief executive who selects the best professionals in the nation to fill his cabinet. Those nominees would be subject to confirmation by the Knesset, but could not be rejected merely for political reasons. He has told me in no uncertain terms that the current system which requires the chief executive to allocate cabinet positions to his opposition is the most effective system for Israel. He fails to appreciate the checks and balances provided by truly independent legislative and judiciary branches.

    The Nation should select its chief executive and allow that person to surround himself with the best people available to help him achieve the programs which served as the platform or basis for his election.

    A split or multi party executive insures mediocrity at best and stalemate at worst because of the lack of collaborative energy. His argument fails in practice as demonstrated by the nearly dictatorial behavior of PM Sharon. The Olmert cobbled executive branch is an even stronger rebuttal to his belief that Israel has effective checks and balances. How can a man with less than 10% approval run a nation? The system encourages corruption through a lack of accountability to the voters and the absence of a desk on which the buck stops.

So I ask you will the Presidential System be better for Israel?

One more question I would like your thoughts on. Should Hatikvah, the new party, fight the next election on the basis of such constitutional change or the abrogation of Oslo. Some argue the country is divided on abrogation but not on constitutional change.

September 10, 2007 | Comments Off on Should Israel adopt a presidential system like in the US

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