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Knesset Approves Electoral Reform Measure to Strengthen Major Parties

January 3, 1973
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An electoral reform measure that will strengthen Israel’s major parties at the expense of the smaller ones was approved by the Knesset early this morning after a stormy all-night session marked by mutual recriminations and shouted insults from the floor. The chamber gave a substantial margin to a bill sponsored by the Alignment and Gahal, the two largest parties, that would convert surplus votes into additional Knesset seats for the largest parties.

Surplus votes are those won by a party in national elections which are in excess of the minimum required for a given number of Knesset seats. The new bill would award the extra seats to the party polling the largest total number of votes. Under the present system, the extra seats go to the party with the largest surplus vote.

The bill was bitterly opposed by the small parties, mainly those with four or less seats in parliament. Pandemonium broke out in the chamber when the small factions objected to alleged “steamroller” tactics by Knesset Speaker Israel Yeshayahu to ram through the Alignment-Gahal bill. Yeshayahu refused for 30 minutes to give the floor to the smaller factions on points of order. When he finally relented, the MKs of the minor parties spent another half hour heaping personal abuse on the Speaker, the house committee chairmen and the Alignment in general.

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