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Steinitz: Israel Should Adopt Presidential System

FM Yuval Steinitz responded to calls for new elections saying Israel should take the dramatic step of adopting presidential governance
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 5/1/2012, 6:26 PM

Yuval Steinitz
Yuval Steinitz
Flash 90

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) on Tuesday recommended a dramatic revamping of Israel's government, saying Israel should adopt a "presidential system."

His remarks were in response to the increasing likelihood Israel will go to early elections due to a coalition dispute over the Tal Law.

Steinitz added that one of the first issues the next Knesset "must consider" is "changing the form of government or the election system."

He also raised the possibility of adopting a presidential system, saying “The economy needs a stable government for 4-5-year stretches.”

In Israel's current parliamentary system of coalition governments the leading lawmakers from each party assume executive responsibility for various ministries.

In recent years this has led to charges that individual parties frequently use their ministries to pursue their own political agendas instead of government policy.

Of particular note are charges by Likud lawmakers that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has pursued a private agenda divergent from government policy in Judea and Samaria.

It can also lead to routine governmental collapse when coalition parties cannot agree on a given course of action.

Under a presidential system, Israel's executive and legislature would be separate and lawmakers would likely be required to resign their posts to serve as ministers.

Such a reality, analysts say, would likely result in staunch opposition from party leaders intent on retaining both legislative and executive power.

Proponents of presidential systems argue they have four distinct advantages: direct elections, separation of powers, speed and decisiveness, and stability.

The exact form of presidential government Steinitz advocates remains unknown, however reformers in the ruling Likud party have attempted to introduce several "American style" reforms vis-a-vis Israel's judiciary in the past year.

New elections are expected to cost the state NIS 400 million.