The Social Guard publishes its semi-annual rankings of MKs after the end of the winter session last week. The Joint List finished ahead of the Zionist Union and came in second place, after MERETZ; Kahlon’s Kulanu party is the most socially-minded party in the cabinet; Several of the contenders in the race to become head of Labor party are the least socially-minded in the opposition; Some MKs who finished among the last, even voted against legislation bills they proposed themselves.
MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) finished in first place in the Social Guard’s Social Index ( Knesset winter session, 2017). Shaffir is the first woman to ever be ranked first in the Social Index. Shaffir takes the place of her Labor party colleague MK Itzik Shmuli. After topping the chart three times in a row, this time Shmuli finished in third place.
Three Arab MKs at the top of the Social Index
MK Dov Khenin from the Joint List is ranked in second place among the opposition MKs. Three other MKs from the Joint List – Yousef Jabareen, Abdullah Abu Ma’aruf and Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya – are among the first ten for the first time. Until the last Social Index, Khenin was the only MK from the Joint List who made it to the first ten. Other MKs who topped the list are Michal Rozin (MERETZ), Nachman Shai and Hilik Bar (Zionist Union). Yesh Atid’s MIckey Levy, who finished 3rd in the last Social Index came in 17th place this time. Haim Jelin finished first among the MKs of Yesh Atid, in 13th place.
MERETZ finished in first place among the parties, like it did most times before. In second place came the Joint List, showing a great improvement compared to its past performance. Behind it, in third place by a small margin, is the Zionist Union, who has thus far always beenone of the two most socially-minded parties. In last place among the opposition parties we find Yesh Atid, which suffered mostly from low attendance of its MKs in assembly votes.
MKs from coalition parties are usually ranked lower overall than MKs from the opposition due to coalition discipline. Despite that, The MKs of Kulanu party voted in a much more socially minded manner than MKs from other parties.
MK Meirav Ben-Ari from Kulanu topped the list of coalition MKs for the third time in a row, and did so by a large margin. For example, Ben-Ari voted in favor of lowering the age of education for disabled children to 3 years of age, extending entitlements for caregiving allowance, and giving monetary stipends to women in shelters. Her colleagues from Kulanu, Tali Ploskov and Akram Hasson, finished in second and third places, ahead of MKs from any other parties in the coalition. Ploskov supported, for example, the affordable housing bill, and Hasson voted in favor of expanding insurers’ liability for the insured. Among the most socially minded MKs in the coalition we also find another representative of the Druze community, MK Hamad Amar (Israel Beitenu), who also voted in a more socially minded manner than most others.
“Our goal is to influence MKs so that they vote in a way that promotes social values” says the Social Guard’s Acting Executive Director Aran Rondel. “This is why we put together the Social Index. It shows time and time again that despite the coalition discipline voting, MKs do have control of their votes and can push for more socially minded legislation. We see it clearly in the Likud MKs’ results. They adhered to the government line and interests, while MKs from Kulanu struggled to push forward the agenda they promised before the elections. Even within the opposition there are big gaps between those who bother showing up for votes and those who slack off. These differences have a genuine impact on the type of legislation that is being promoted in the Knesset”.
The System: Proposing Bills and then Voting Against Them
Votes by MKs from Kulanu are very different from votes by Likud MKs. At the bottom of the Social Index we find MKs Navah Boker (Likud, who shares last place with Ya’akov Asher from Yahadut Hatorah). Tzipi Hotovely and Jackie Levy (Likud) are also among the last in the coalition. Anat Berko (Likud) and Hotovely voted against numerous bills that could have helped many Israelis improve their living conditions, such as the bill prohibiting small and unsafe apartments, limiting the number of students in classrooms or accessibility for speakers of foreign languages in hospitals.
Some MKs at the bottom of the Social Index made headlines and a reputation for themselves as being socially minded when they proposed legislation bills that intended to help the poor. However, these MKs have not even bothered to vote for their own bills. Miki Zohar (Likud), for example, proposed numerous bills that were deemed socially minded, such as stopping government companies from spending funds needlessly on publicity. Zohar, however, voted against two of his own legislation bills and refrained from voting on eight of them. Navah Boker also voted against a bill that would have mandated having at least 40% women in the Knesset, and then voted against this bill. She also did not take part in the votes of seven other legislation bills she proposed. Many other MKs from the coalition voted against their own bills, such as David Bitan, Dudi Amsalem, Amir Ohana and Sharen Haskel from the Likud party, Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), Uri Maklev (Yahadut Hatorah), Ya’akov Mergi and Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas).
“The MKs want to build a socially minded reputation for themselves so they propose many positive legislation bills that win them easy headlines in the media. They fail in doing the much harder job of making sure those bills become laws” says the Social Guard’s Research Department Manager, Michelle Eden. “Too many MKs in the coalition feel comfortable hiding behind discipline voting and vote against the bills they proposed themselves, and too many MKs from the opposition don’t bother showing up to support their own bills in the assembly. This is why we do not rank MKs based on how many socially minded bills they proposed, but just on what they actually voted for. Too many private member’s bills are proposed in the Knesset, and many of them aim only for pandering. It is our job to make sure that the good ones that make it to the floor pass”.
The Social Index is published by the Social Guard at the end of every Knesset session. It ranks the MKs according to their votes in the assembly on legislation bills that have socio-economic effect. The MKs receive positive points for voting for socially minded bills and against bills that are anti-socially minded, and negative points for doing the opposite.