Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Primaries in Israel, a big joke

Today is the Kadmia primary and last week was the Likud's. To call these democratic primaries is in IMHO a big joke. What is amazing to me is how the press here in Israel thinks this a wonderful democratic process when in truth it is anything but.

The way the system works is that every voter has to pick a list of candidates that they want to serve in the Knesset. For example in Kadima voters have to pick between 18 and 22 names. There are a number of glaring problems with the system:

1. There is no ranking. Everyone you pick is equal. Imagine you have a few candidates you think are really worthy so you vote for them. Now you have to vote for another bunch of candidates just so your ballot is valid. In other words, your vote for some Joe Shmo as your 18th pick who you know nothing about counts as much as your number 1 pick.
2. You end up voting for people that you never heard of and know nothing about. What ends up happening is that various groups make up lists of recommended candidates and that is who people vote for. For example, in the Likud, Feiglin put out a list of candidates to vote for. Most people had no clue who many of the names on the list were who they were voting for.
3. There are all kinds of crazy deals and revenge lists. The system lends itself to manipulation by organized groups.

It is clear that the only solution is a district based system where every MK is elected from a district and then you can have district based primaries.

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