Israeli left-wing parties to unite or to sink

February 12, 2019
Labour and Meretz have to unite to survive

Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay speaks at a conference held by the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem on March 11, 2018

Yossi Beilin writes in Al Monitor, “In Israel, citizens elect parties that represent them in the parliament. The composition of the parliament then entails the composition of a majority coalition, led by a prime minister. This system of proportional representation is a gift that keeps on giving. It enables Israeli voters to be represented more accurately than the vast majority of democracies around the globe.”…

“The problem in Israel, however, is that proportional representation has resulted in a multiplicity of parties. That is why a voter threshold system was created: to avoid an inflated number of parties. In this system, votes for parties that failed to pass the threshold are split up among the other parties, based on their size. The minimum voter threshold has risen in Israel over the years, with it standing at 3.25% in the last election. While this is still far from the German or Turkish thresholds (5% and 10% respectively), it still reduces the number of parties serving in the Knesset, so that there are now no parties with fewer than four representatives in the 120-seat Knesset.”…

Tamar Zandberg,. Meretz Chair

“And a merger makes sense in other ways. After all, both parties openly support a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They are both secular, and they both want to repeal the extreme nationalist legislation that Netanyahu and his cohorts adopted so cynically. “Invigorating Rabin” (from the same root as Meretz), the Meretz party election slogan in 1992, sums up the whole story. Meretz is less diplomatic and clearer in its messaging, while the Labor Party, no matter how weak, considers itself to be a potential ruling party, meaning that it shows greater willingness for ideological compromise. It is in the Labor Party’s DNA to head a coalition, or at least to be part of one, while Meretz is typically an opposition party. Nevertheless, their worldviews are very similar. Many members of the Knesset for the Labor Party would have no problem seeing themselves as Knesset members for Meretz.” (more…)

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