Plan: Half of MKs Would Be Elected to Represent Regions

Panel's recommendation, which would work to the advantage of larger parties, to be submitted to Katsav.

A presidential commission is to propose Monday that Israel's present system of choosing members of Knesset be replaced by elections in which half of the 120 legislators are chosen to represent specific regions.

At present, all members of Knesset are elected at large, with the voter choosing just one political party, and the house apportioned according to the relative number of votes gained by each respective faction.

The goal of the plan, as outlined by the Megidor Commission, set up to study restructuring the government on a number of levels, is to strengthen the bond between voters and their representatives, as well as creating large political blocs.

Under the plan, 60 MKs would be elected according to the present system. The remaining 60 would be chosen in 17 electoral districts, which each district having two to five representatives.

The proposal dovetails with the panel's principal recommendations, which aim at bolstering the parliamentary system of government, rather than moving toward a centralized presidential system, which would concentrate power in the executive branch.

The committee is also recommending that the minimum percentage of the popular vote needed for a party to enter the Knesset be raised from the present 2 percent to 2.5 percent, in order to encourage the creation of larger political parties and to de-emphasize the relative power of small factions, which can hold disproportionate sway in a narrow coalition.

The plan is to be submitted to President Moshe Katzav on Monday evening. The plan is not expected to win approval, however, as small parties are likely to successfully oppose it.

The commission carried out a simulation of national elections involving its proposed regional component, and found that the system was likely to substantially sap the power of intermediate-sized parties as well as small ones.