Some Vote, Others Don't

The Knesset's Laziest Voters, From Lieberman to Yishai

Voting is just one part of an MK's job, and some bother to do it a lot more than others.

Emil Salman

Amongst government ministers, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had the worst attendance record in the Knesset, attending fewer votes than any of his colleagues in the most-recent session. But at least he's consistent. In the previous Knesset session, which ended last summer, when he was simply an MK and not a minister, he ranked 115 out of 120 Knesset members in attending votes.

The job of an MK is quite varied. Among other things, it involves proposing laws, attending committee meetings, overseeing the operations of the government, political maneuvering and advancing the agenda he or she was elected to carry out. It is common practice for a busy MK to search out a colleague who is going to vote in the opposite way and arrange for neither of them to vote so he or she can attend to other business. An MK's voting record, then, just measures his or her willingness to perform the most basic duty of an elected representative: the hard and dirty work of sitting for hours in Knesset session to vote on the hundreds of laws that they and their colleagues propose.

Education Minister Shay Piron came in one spot ahead of Lieberman amongst ministers, ranking 115th among MKS. Piron voted on just 82 laws and other items out of a total of 915 votes during the winter session, a big drop compared to his performance in the summer session.

Lieberman and Piron are both very busy. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to vote more times than either of them, coming in 110th among MKs.

The minister with easily the best voting record was Pensioner Affairs Minister Uri Orbach, who ranked 33rd among MKs. Far behind was Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, in 87th place, followed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, in 93rd place. The government's best representative when it came to voting was Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy, who ranked 6th among MKs. Levy, considered one of the most active MKs, can almost always be found in the Knesset plenum.

The MK with the worst attendance overall was Eli Yishai. Replaced by Aryeh Deri as the head of Shas last May, Yishai has barely participated in Knesset sessions and committees since. He chimed in for just 54 of the 915 votes in the most recent session. Deri's record is not much better. He participated in just 84 votes. Two other Shas MKs ranked in the top ten though: Nissim Zeev was third and Avraham Michaeli was seventh among MKs. Zeev voted 623 times and Michaeli voted 588 times.

New MKs are well represented at the top of the list. In last year's summer session, freshly minted MKs took 17 of the top 20 places, holding on to 12 spots in the most recent session.