ACRI to Election Committee: Parties and Candidates Must not Be Disqualified on Ideology

Photo CC by Ze'ev Zamir

The Knesset’s Central Election Committee will hold a hearing today (Wednesday 19 December) on a number of petitions to disqualify party lists and candidates running for election to the next Knesset.  Ahead of the hearing, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) presented the committee with a position paper on the issue, warning that disqualifying candidates or party lists on ideological grounds seriously damages the democratic system.

In the position paper, ACRI notes that the right to vote and be elected is a fundamental right in a democratic system, vital to ensuring many groups’ rights to participate in the democratic process and achieve political representation.  The paper cites the specific grounds on which party lists or candidates may be disqualified, and warns that any use of these provisions must be circumspect and limited.  Disqualification of candidates and party lists on ideological grounds dilutes the marketplace of ideas, and can even lead to the exclusion of entire political groups.

ACRI notes that in particular the distinct situation in Israel, in which there is a large minority of Arab citizens, must be taken into account.  Disqualification of parties representing this community would result in the exclusion of a minority group in the political process at the hands of the majority in a manner that will seriously harm democratic rule in Israel.  Diverse ideological worldviews, ACRI states, are the basis for the existence of a free and democratic country, as well as freedom of expression, individual rights and equality.

According to Attorney Dan Yakir, ACRI Chief Legal Counsel, “disqualifying candidates and parties is an extreme measure and should be avoided whenever possible. Among the candidates and party lists for the next Knesset, there is no one  – neither on the right nor the left – who should have this extreme decision taken against him or her. Unfortunately, in every election cycle, there are those who strive towards an antagonistic undemocratic process out of populist and cynical considerations.”

To read an English translation of the position paper, click here.

For the position paper in Hebrew click here.

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Arab Citizens of Israel, Arab Minority Rights, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression

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