Israel’s new government formed

Some updates and revisions

Following Israel’s elections of 10 February, a new coalition government is now in power, backed by 69 of the 120 Knesset members and led by new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud).

The government has 30 ministers and 7 deputy ministers. (Israel Radio reported 9 deputy ministers.)

Labor will have 5 ministers in the government, including Ehud Barak remaining in his current post as Defense Minister. So the party is a bit under-represented, although not by much. Its 13 Knesset seats comprise 18.8% of the coalition’s 69 seats, and its ministries are 16.7% of the cabinet.

The calculations in the previous paragraph probably should be revised. The 69 MKs who voted for the government does not include 5 Labor members, who as they had previously promised, abstained on the investiture vote. However, my count of 13 MKs contributing to the government includes all elected Labor members, as I believe it should–at least till such time as they begin actively voting against government bills (or they formally break with the party). The investiture was voted against by 45 MKs. I am not sure who the other abstainer was, in addition to the 5 Labor members. In any case, the government’s base should probably be taken as 74, rather than 69 (and I assume the affirmative votes include the omnipresent UTJ, which has 5 seats). By that standard, Labor represents 17.6% of the coalition and thus its 16.7% of the cabinet is quite proportional. Gamson still rules.

Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu is Foreign Minister. That should be interesting.

Haaretz has now posted photos of the ministers, grouped by party:

    Likud 15
    Labor 5
    YB 5
    Shas 4
    Jewish Home 1

There are only two women in the cabinet (one Likud and one Yisrael Beiteinu, with the portfolios of Culture and Sports, and Absorption). Of course, the leader of the opposition–and incidentally of the largest party in the Knesset–is a woman.

6 thoughts on “Israel’s new government formed

  1. I’m not sure if you have to be an MK to be a minister, but it looks like the minister/MK-ratio is close to 1/3.

    If we only concentrate on the parties in the coalition, the minister/MK-ratio is something like 1/2.

    Just to compare: The largest Danish cabinet ever had 24 ministers with 179 MPs – that’s 13% of MPs in government (though some ministers weren’t MPs)

  2. Australia has a statutory limit of 30 drawn from a house of 150 and a senate of 76. Ministers must be MHRs or senators. The constitution originally provided a limit of 7 but that provision applied ‘until the Parliament otherwise provides’. The rationale for the limit was to ensure the executive could not dominate the parliament with ministerial appointments. We may have to rename that idea the Netanyahu principle.

  3. The ratio of cabinet to parliament size was an issue in New Zealand, in the pre-MMP era when parliament had only 100 or so members. If a cabinet got much over 25, it meant that a majority of the ruling-party caucus might be ministers.

    The relevant denominator presumably is the government’s support base, rather than the full parliament. So that is probably 74 for Israel (see revisions above), rather than 120. So the cabinet amounts to around 40% of the support base.

  4. Most British colonial constitutions focused on this. There was a cheerful rule for a long time that if you were made a minister you had to resign and face a by-election before you could accept office. That rule wasn’t abolished until 1907 in NSW.

    I suspect that idea of excluding legislators from the temptations of accepting office has a lot more to do with Article 1, Section 5, second para, US constitution than any well-formed ideas about separation of powers. There’s a ghostly echo in S44 of the Australian constitution which recites a long list of disqualifications from parliament and makes ministerial office an exception to the disqualifications in a proviso at the end.

  5. “Opposition leader Tzipi Livni… who lost out on the opportunity to form the new government despite her Kadima party’s slim win in the February elections…”

    “Livni: New government is bad for Israel,” Haaretz (31 March 2009),

    Sorry, guys, but you mean “slim plurality” not “slim win”, and in a system like Israel’s there’s often quite a difference between the two.

  6. Pingback: For the upcoming Israeli election, divisions on the left are not the problem | Fruits and Votes

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