Photo: Amir Cohen
Yossi Beilin: Bill a farce
Photo: Amir Cohen
Photo: Amir Cohen
Yacimovich. Bill too political
Photo: Amir Cohen

Left-wing MKs oppose changing presidential vote

Cabinet to discuss bill Sunday said to favor Shimon Peres' candidacy for president by replacing secret ballot with open ballot in presidential elections. Left wing openly against bill, call it 'farce.' Minister Sheetrit joins anti-bill choir

Just after the presidential campaign has changed gears, many members of Knesset openly came out in opposition to what is being called the Peres Bill, an effort to change the presidential elections from a closed ballot to an open ballot.


The bill, which is slated to be voted on Sunday in the ministerial committee for legislative affairs, has already took a beating Friday by Minister Meir Sheetrit. Now, Meretz Chairman MK Dr. Yossi Beilin has joined the fray, calling Prime Minister Ehud Olmert not to support an open ballot.


The bill is said to advance Shimon Peres' candidacy for president, and, in the past, was even put forth as a condition for him to run. Yet, one of the vice premier's supporters, Yossi Beilin, is opposed to the bill.


"We must avoid making a farce out of changing the law of the presidency. The purpose of a secret ballot is to ensure that establishing who is the number one civilian won't be done according to party discipline. The moment the ballot is open, it will become an inseparable part of sharing the coalition booty, and will cause additional damage to the institution of president," said Beilin.


Beilin added that passing the bill would also personally harm Shimon Peres.


Meir Sheetrit has already openly come out against the bill. His associates reported to Ynet that he is taking action and isn't shying away from rivalries with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is pushing to elect Peres to the presidency.


The open ballot bill is meant to ensure party discipline in the Knesset's vote for president, and to help Shimon Peres be elected.


The law was formed from a lesson learned from the last presidential elections in 2000, in which Katsav beat out Peres for the post, with a margin of six votes.


In 2000, there was a secret ballot, which allowed members of Knesset who had promised Peres their support not to follow through.


Now, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is applying pressure to pass the law for an open ballot.


'Undemocratic act'

MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) also responded to the bill, and said, "It is forbidden to change the rules of the game for presidential elections, because this is not a democratic act."


According to him, "The fitting candidate for the presidency needs to be a person who can rehabilitate the institution. This doesn't have to be a political figure," added Vilan.


MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) also slammed the initiative to change the system of elections. "The Peres Bill for an open ballot is an unbridled attempt by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to change the law for political needs of some sort or another," she said.


Attila Somfalvi, Miri Chason, and Amnon Maranda contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 01.27.07, 20:23
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