Letter: Israeli poll system helps extremists

Share
Related Topics
From Dr Andrew Shacknove

Sir: In the past week, striving to come to terms with the terrible assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, we search for explanations. Many pieces of the puzzle have been identified: a fanatical young extremist, security lapses, the public availability of weapons, the accessibility of Israel's leaders, divergent visions of Israel itself and its relations with the Palestinians, and the acts and omissions of Likud in providing a forum for radical voices.

Another factor may be the unusual features of Israel's electoral system. Israel has an extreme form of proportional representation (PR) wherein small parties proliferate, needing to reach only a very low threshold of votes in order to enter the Knesset (parliament). This, in turn, creates a chronic problem for the major parties, Likud and Labour alike, in their efforts to form coalition governments. Small parties enjoy disproportionate power. Binyamin Netanyahu, the leader of Likud, is reaching out to right- wing extremists not because he shares their views, but because he will sooner or later need their votes.

PR has much to recommend it. It is arguably more democratic than other systems. But each country needs to balance the dual objectives of democracy and order. At one extreme, single party systems err in favour of order at too high a price to democracy. The Israeli system may be making the opposite mistake. Perhaps it finally is time for Israel to raise the threshold of votes small parties need to enter the Knesset. Doing so will not eliminate the extremists. But it may serve to limit their political importance by incorporating them into larger and more moderate parties.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Shacknove

Oxford

9 November

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
More From
Dr Andrew Shacknove
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The economics of the stock market is simple really: buy and hold

Ben Chu
Jeb Bush's campaign will emphasise both his conservative record as a former governor of Florida and his commitment to building a more inclusive Republican Party  

American democracy is up for sale, and it’s a warning to us all

Shirley Williams
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border