Saturday, March 13, 2010

Knesset Futiley Attempts "Accessibility Revolution" to Spur Voter Interest When What They Really Need Is Direct Representative Elections


They can call this an "accessibility revolution" all they want, but the truth is that Israel needs a REAL accessibility revolution that includes representational voting. The idea of voting for a party, and then having the party decide who sits in the Knesset is what is distancing the voters--not their inability to communicate.

Under the current system, the MKs are not held accountable for their actions because they don't represent any particular part of the country, and they aren't directly elected. In addition, even when the people show clear support for a particular person and vote overwhelmingly for a certain party to get that person in the Knesset, the party can play games--remember what happened to Feiglin? He was supposed to be in the Knesset, brought Likud a huge number of votes, and then was cheated out of his seat by BiBi's slick trick of providing seats for "women" and "minorities" so that they could move Feiglin and the rest of the wildly popular
Manhigut Yehudit out of the Knesset seats they had so clearly won.

In addition, the party system allows a huge amount of corruption to go on unabated. Buying a politician is a lot easier when that politician is not beholding to an electorate.

The system needs to change, and change quickly.

Knesset prepares to go virtual
Skype, Facebook and Twitter part of planned "accessibility revolution."

Soon, voters will be able to Skype into Knesset committees, write talkbacks
on their favorite MKs' Facebook pages, and receive Tweets from the middle of
the most heated hearings.

As part of what Speaker Reuven Rivlin described earlier this week as the
"accessibility revolution," Knesset director-general Dan Landau revealed on
Thursday that the parliament is going virtual, and by the end of the year
will have initiated these and of other steps designed to bring members of
the public closer to their representatives.

"Every citizen will be able to participate in what is going on here, and to
judge us for themselves; a strong and relevant Knesset is insurance for a
stable democracy," Rivlin said during a hearing on Wednesday.

"The diminished image of the Knesset is eating away at the democracy and
critically harming it. In the past year, we have been focusing on procedures
and activities that are designed to directly reach the public, and to
provide a meeting place where the Knesset and the public could come
together, to reflect the activities and processes that happen in the halls,
the committees and the lecture rooms, through various means," he said.

Rivlin said the Knesset was going to launch a major upgrade of its Web site,
to make it more responsive, interactive and attractive to users. An outside
contractor will work on the site, and Knesset officials have spent hours
pouring over other legislatures' Web sites, taking particular interest in
Germany's federal and state legislatures' and the British Parliament.

One issue that arose in both Israel and Great Britain was the question of
talkbacks. Almost every self-respecting Web site, it seems, from shopping
sites to blogs and newspapers, has interactive features through which
Internet users can write their feelings for all the world to see. Landau
said that Knesset officials were uncertain about the feature, especially
regarding who would bear the responsibility for censoring the posts and
deciding what was appropriate.

The most likely solution, he said, would be the one adopted in Britain, in
which lawmakers' official Web sites would link to Facebook pages, enabling
each MK to manage the information and comments posted on the page. When
being transferred to the social media tool, users will likely see a
disclaimer warning that they were now leaving the official Knesset Web site.

Facebook is not the only social networking tool likely to be adopted by the
virtual Knesset. With new appointments soon to be made to greatly expand the
Knesset Spokesman's Office, newly hired spokespeople will be expected to
send tweets via Twitter to update those interested in breaking legislative
tidbits. Landau said it is possible that the public will be able to watch
committee sessions live online, and file "real-time" questions to the
committee chairpeople.

For those interested in the real-world parliament, the Knesset has extended
- and plans to further improve - the options for physical visitors.
Different tour routes within the building now include routes for young
children, art-lovers and archeology aficionados, as well as the standard

Landau also said that the "standard" tour will soon be improved and that he
hopes every visit will include a stop at one of the committee meetings or
the plenum, or a meeting with a current or former lawmaker.

The former MKs are among the most enthusiastic supporters of that plan,
Landau said.

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