July 20, 2019

Israel's Vote Threshold Is Both a Blessing and a Curse

“For weeks now it has been clear to all that the April 9 elections will be decided by the small parties that manage to pass the vote threshold for entering the Knesset. The irony of fate is that Avigdor Liberman, the architect of the idea to raise the Knesset-entry threshold from 2% to 3.25% on the eve of the 2015 elections, had intended it to limit the number of parties vying for seats in the legislature and to reduce the undue power of the small parties.

The first unintended consequence was the formation of the Joint List in 2015 to enable three small Arab parties to pass the threshold. The party won 13 mandates and emerged as the third largest party in the Knesset. If Liberman’s real plan had been to create a vote threshold that no Arab party could surpass, he only succeeded in creating an Arab political force comprised of the religious, nationalists, communists and others whose only common cause was opposition to Zionism.

The current election cycle has produced additional ironies of fate: first, the number of parties vying for seats in the Knesset is the largest since elections for the first Knesset, and second, most polls have Liberman himself, the chair of Yisrael Beitenu, scarcely passing the vote threshold.”

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