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Election Reform Recommended

A ministerial committee on electoral reform has recommended a series of measures that would sharply reduce the time–and the cost–of election campaigns. If the Knesset approves them, election campaigning would be restricted to 45 days before the voters go to the polls.

Radio and television election campaigning would be broadcast only in the 21 days preceding election day. Knesset elections and elections to local offices would be held simultaneously if the reforms become law.

The committee, chaired by Laborite Gad Yaacobi, Minister of Economic Planning, has yet to tackle a fundamental reform — replacing the present system of proportional representation with one in which each Knesset member would represent a specific constituency. Likud has opposed this in the past but may be persuaded to reconsider in view of the rise of extreme rightwing parties.

The end of proportional representation would eliminate the many splinter parties which siphon off enough votes from the major parties to make it impossible for either of them to form a government without entering into unwieldy coalition agreements.

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