MK Idit Silman has shaken the governing coalition by announcing that she is joining Likud after receiving a promise of tenth place on the Likud's candidate list in the next Knesset election and the post of minister of health in a future Likud-led government. The coalition thus loses its parliamentary majority, and is tied with the opposition on 60 Knesset seats.
What will happen to the economic legislation that the government promised to enact, are we necessarily facing another election, and what are the chances of Minster of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid nevertheless becoming prime minister under his rotation agreement with sitting Prime Minister Naftali Bennett? "Globes" presents some answers to the questions raised by Silman's dramatic move.
Silman has announced her resignation. What happens now?
Theoretically, when the coalition and opposition are tied in the Knesset, the government can continue in office, but it will be paralyzed in the Knesset and will find it hard to pass laws and regulations. The assessment is that in the current situation Silman will not be the last to leave the coalition, and that the current government will not be able to maintain even the existing balance of forces with the opposition. As soon as one more Knesset member switches sides, that will probably be the end.
Does that mean we are heading for an election?
Not necessarily. In order to dissolve the Knesset and hold an election, a majority of 61 Knesset members is required in three readings of the bill. Another possibility is the formation of another government within the current Knesset through a vote of no confidence. This, however, is an extremely complicated move, as it requires the agreement of 61 members of Knesset to the make-up of an alternative government, and that will not be straightforward. With the addition of Silman, the opposition does number 60, but six of those are members of the Joint Arab List, which will not take part in such a government. So even with Silman, the opposition still needs another seven votes in the Knesset.
If an election does take place, when will it be?
The answer to that is not clear. The Knesset is in recess, and theoretically the government can keep going until it reconvenes next month, but if the opposition musters the required majority it can demand that the Knesset plenum should meet during the recess and pass a law to dissolve the Knesset. As soon as that happens, a Knesset election must take place within 90 days.
What will happen to the economic legislation?
The government planned a series of economic measures requiring a majority in the Knesset, and it will be much more difficult to pass them. It will have to reach agreement with the opposition on each one. If the Knesset is dissolved, the government will become a transition government, with reduced powers, and it will not be possible to institute economic measures without agreement between the government and the opposition.
What about the rotation?
Strangely perhaps, it looks as though Yair Lapid is closer than ever to becoming prime minister, even if only of a transition government. Under the coalition agreements and the ensuing legislation, if members of the right-wing block vote to dissolve the Knesset, Lapid will immediately become prime minister until a new government is sworn in.
In the event of a vote of no confidence in the government and the swearing in of a new government in the current Knesset, Lapid will not become prime minister.
And what of Silman's future?
If another rebel from the Yamina party joins her, they can form a new, independent party within the current Knesset, since the law allows a third of a Knesset faction to split off. Of the seven Yamina MKs elected in the last election, MK Amichai Chikli has already abandoned the party, and just one more Knesset member is required.
In that event, Silman will be protected from being declared a "mutinous member of Knesset", which would make it difficult for her to run in the next election and oblige her to stand in a new list not represented in the current Knesset. If Silman is not declared mutinous, she can obtain a guaranteed spot on the Likud list or that of any other party in the next election.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 6, 2022.
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