Thursday, September 18, 2008

Since the newspaper's are wrongly reporting that Kadima members just chose the next Prime Minister, let me clarify the law.

First, so long as Olmert doesn't resign, he remains PM.

Second, if he does resign, there begins a long process of replacing him, during all of which time he remains caretaker PM. (If, in addition to resigning, he also declares himself unable to continue even as caretaker, he is replaced by the Deputy PM -- who happens to be Livni, independently of her victory in the primary. This is extremely unlikely.)

Upon his resignation, the President assigns the opportunity to put together a coalition to the candidate most likely to succeed in doing so. It should be emphasized that, unlike what has been written in countless editorials, the President is not bound to give the first opportunity to Livni. In fact, on one previous occasion (in 1990), Yitzhak Shamir had the best chance to form a coalition after a vote of no-confidence in Shamir's government, but then-President Chaim Herzog, gave the first shot to another candidate -- Shimon Peres. (In what has come to be known as "hatargil hamasriach", Peres failed to form a coalition and then Shamir succeeded. Anyone with lingering sympathy for Aryeh Deri, should pay careful attention to his role in that fiasco.)

Nevertheless, since Livni has made all the right elitist lefty noises, Peres will almost certainly give her the first chance. This is appropriate, given how well Livni's squeeky-clean image plays in, for example, the village of Baka Jat, where she took 172 out of 186 votes. Seems they just love her there.

If Livni fails to put together a coalition within 42 days, Peres can choose another candidate. This process can, in principle, continue until the elections scheduled for 2010, during all of which time Olmert remains caretaker PM. By the way, at any time during this process 61 MKs who agree on a single candidate can force the issue.

Likewise, at any time -- before or after a coalition is formed -- 61 MKs can vote to go to new elections within 90 days. This is very likely to happen.

Addendum: While in the original Basic Law: The Government, the process of choosing a candidate to form a government is iterative, this is no longer the case . As Anonymous comments, under the current version of the law, there can be at most two rounds. On a practical level, this doesn't make much difference since it is highly unlikely that there would ever be more than two candidates with any chance at all of forming a government. On a theoretical level, however, the situation is actually worse than I put it. Since, the sitting PM remains in office until a new government is formed, Olmert could in principle remain PM so long as he lives and lies. Even after elections, so long as nobody succeeds at obtaining the Knesset's approval, the sitting PM continues.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight. Right now, Ehud Olmert is the PM. He will remain PM until he resigns, which conceivably could take months or years, until elections are scheduled in 2010.
Theoretically, EO does not have to resign until Tzipi Livni already has her 61 in the bag, at which point she will not have to worry about the pressure of getting a coalition together in 42 days. [I am assuming the 42 days begin (a)after EO resigns, after which (b) Peres gives Livni the nod.] Right now we have a sitting PM who is not a member in good standing of any political party in Israel.

Of course, if your anticipation is right, all this is moot, since the govt, in any form -- EO as acting PM (while Livni tries to corral 60 voters), or as regular old pre-resignation PM -- could call a no-confidence vote, calling for national elections.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey said...

Regarding your last observation:

Amen. Hashta baagala uvezeman kariv.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Y. Ben-David said...

According to my theory, which I have expressed here before, that the least bad option for us "Right-wing, pro-YESHA, datiim) is a weak, discredited Leftist gov't, then I say let Olmert stay in power as long as possible, and then let Tzippi, whose victory was razon-thin and tainted (as Ben pointed out) take over WITHOUT election, even if SHAS stays out and she brings in MERETZ. Such a Leftist coalition would represent maybe 30% of the population. Such a gov't would have no mandate or legitimacy to destroy settlements. What I fear most is a big Likud victory, since it was "strong-Right-wing" Likud gov'ts that destroyed Yamit and Gush Katif. In the early years of the state, a "strong" Prime Minister was a builder, but today, they are destroyers, so we don't want a strong PM. Thus, Olmert and Tzippi fit the bill. Netanyahu is more worrisome for me. I have heard the theory that Bibi can NOT do what Sharon did because the "Right-wingers" in Israel won't follow him like lemmings into the sea like they did with Sharon ("Arik MUST know what he is doing, he is a war hero, he would NEVER do anything to endanger Israeli security", blah, blah, blah...).
However, Bibi is far more intelligent than Tzippi which I think makes him more dangerous, in the present topsy turvey world.

I had a discussion with ultra-Leftist religious blogger "Themagneszionist" (he is a kippa serugah version of Neturei Karta) and he said he hopes Bibi wins for all the reasons I said. He said the whole world will come down on Bibi in addition to the "rule of law Mafia", so he will make big concessions. It is strange that he, a Leftists who votes HADASH wants the Likud to win, and I, who voted MAFDAL and Ihud Leumi in the past now want a Leftist gov't with MERETZ in power!

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This can't go on ad infinitum until 2010. There is one shot at doing it via section 7-8 of the Basic Law: The Government. This is 28 days with a possible extension of 14 days by the President. Then we can move on to one shot via Section 9 which offers the President the chance to choose another candidate. This procedure offers another 28 days without the possibility of extension. Should this candidate fail to form a government, then as per Section 10 a majority of MK's can request that a particular MK be given a chance to form a government. This MK has 14 days to do so and should s/he fail then the President is obligated to notify the Speaker of such and it is then considered as if the Knesset has disbanded itself leading to election in 90 days. This is also a one shot deal.
From tonight, Olmert has at the maximum 181 days left as PM(including the interim 7 and 2 days for the President to consult with the MK's as per the various clauses).

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Y. Ben-David said...

I just went on my first visit to the "Minharat HaKotel" in something like 10 years (the tunnel that runs along the length of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount). I must say as much as I don't like Netanyahu and Olmert, I do have to give them credit for opening this tunnel, in spite of the opposition of the Left and the Arab terror that accompanies it.

1:49 AM  

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