Mixed Elections? Not Here, Please

One of the more interesting documents currently circulating among Israeli politicians is the table prepared by the chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, detailing all of the proposals for changing the government structure and all the positions. The table indicates which proposals are likely to win Knesset approval, such as the "Norwegian Law," which stipulates that once a Knesset member joins the cabinet he or she leaves the Knesset, to be replaced by a member of the same party. One can also infer from the document which proposals are not likely to pass, such as semi-regional representation, which is supported by a single body only - the Magidor Committee.

Attorney David Glass, legal counsel for Shas and a seasoned politico, was almost dismissive of the mixed-elections idea, saying that it has been proposed several times already. "We'll be having this conversation a few years from now," he said.

So why is Shas (and not only Shas) so opposed to the idea? For the same reason that the Magidor Committee supports it: Elections based partly on regional representation benefit large parties and hurt small ones. This is not just a hunch; the Magidor Committee carried out several simulations showing what would have happened had last year's elections been carried out using a different method. The simulation prepared by Nir Atmor showed that had mixed elections been in place for the last election, Kadima would have won 39 Knesset seats instead of 29 and Labor would have had 26 MKs instead of 19. However, Shas would have had 11 MKs instead of 12, Yisrael Beiteinu would have had 7, not 11, Meretz would have dropped from 5 seats to 2 and the Arab parties would have lost two Knesset seats. In the 2003 election, Shas and the National Union would have lost 3 Knesset seats each.