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Yes to term limits — an emphatic no to the demand that Netanyahu ‘cool off’

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10.06.2021

The proposal now being considered by the new coalition to limit an Israeli prime minister’s time in office to no more than eight years is a good and worthwhile idea.

The proposal suggested last week by the New Hope party to also deny someone the right to run for the Knesset if they have committed the great sin of serving for eight years as prime minister – is not.

The “cooling off” bill placed on the Knesset’s docket by New Hope on June 1 is a dangerous, unhinged idea that must be opposed.

Warping the rules of the game

There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to limit the time in office of a prime minister. For one thing, it makes it easier to change administrations.

A functioning, thriving democracy is one in which power passes from time to time from one side of the political map to the other, opposition becoming coalition and vice versa. Those who were in the epicenters of power, with access to key posts and budgets, are forced to disconnect from them, while those who could only comment from the sidelines get a chance at the rudder.

In an ideal world, one would avoid legislation that tries to tinker with the voters’ choice, and it is the public alone that would be empowered to bring about a change in government through the ballot box. But there’s an argument to be made that an overlong term in office by a single person could result in so extreme a consolidation of power in his or her hands that it could threaten the very rules of the game, the rules that ensure that governments periodically change. So it’s important to set down constitutional rules limiting overly lengthy terms in office — and not only for the prime minister; the same logic applies to MKs and mayors.

The Israel Democracy Institute has listed in a recent policy paper (https://www.idi.org.il/articles/34207) the justifications for term limits for prime ministers. Besides the overconcentration of power in one person’s hands, there are also the concerns that a long-serving prime minister will work to weaken and delegitimize his rivals; that........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)


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