What Do Parliamentary Aides Think of the Work of Members Of Knesset?

As long as no parliamentary reform is implemented we will continue to be disappointed by the quality of its work IDI President Yohanan Plesner

What Do Parliamentary Aides Think of the Work of Members Of Knesset?

As part of efforts to improve the functioning of the Knesset, including those efforts being made by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Ministers Ayelet Shaked and Yariv Levine; MK Yoav Kisch; and the Knesset caucus for improving the work of the Knesset, led by MK Elazar Stern, the Israel Democracy Institute’s Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research conducted a survey of parliamentary aides to determine what they think of the work of the MKs they serve, and the effectiveness of the tools at MKs’ disposal.

Researchers surveyed aides in 40 Knesset offices. Of those, 92% of aides say they think MKs do not come prepared for Knesset committee meetings and that the Knesset is not succeeding in properly supervising the government (95%).

Despite this, the majority of aides report that the MKs with which they work invest the appropriate amount of time preparing for parliamentary committee and plenary meetings (75% and 72% respectively). Some 65% of aides say the MKs with which they work are likewise investing the appropriate amount of time on meetings related to professional parliamentary matters, on party-related activities (57%), on public duties unrelated to parliamentary matters (67%) and media-related activities (55%).

Do MKs arrive prepared to parliamentary committee meetings?

In terms of the work of the Knesset, the majority of aides (57%) say MKs invest more than 10 hours drafting each bill, and the majority (67.5%) also report that MKs work hard and are trying to fulfill their job duties.

In response both to the question of whether the number of MKs should be increased from 120 to 150, and the question of whether or not the size of MKs’ personal staff is sufficient for the fulfillment of their duties, the aides were split. Around 50% of aides think there is the Knesset is the right size and the staff is the right amount, and about 50% think the opposite.

With regards to the Knesset’s oversight of the government, parliamentary aides say the most effective oversight tool is the studies conducted by the Knesset Research and Information Center.

Further, 62% of aides score well committee discussions on matters related to the responsibility of government ministries, 60% find effective the Knesset questions hours, which was recently reformed, and 47% report that various Knesset queries are effective. Only 37% say budgetary discussions are a good method of Knesset oversight of the government.

The survey also found that nearly all parliamentary aides (97%) believe the media unfairly reports on MKs and is too focused on gossip and exceptional cases.

Despite that 45% of the aides say that in the last parliamentary session the MKs they work with submitted more than 10 queries (and 22% said they submitted between five to 10), the majority (57%) report that only a small number of them were answered in a timely matter and according to official procedure. Some 17% said that none of their queries were responded to in a timely manner.

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“The poll proves the problem is not just on the personal level or with regards to the public obligation of one MK or another,” explains IDI President Yohanan Plesner. “As long as no parliamentary reform is implemented – decreasing the number of committees and increasing the Knesset’s professionalism – we will continue to be disappointed by the quality of its work.”

The poll was conducted by the Guttman Center between March 14 and April 1, 2017. The survey was first sent to advisors of 91 Knesset members, who are not ministers or deputy ministers, but whom did have their own parliamentary advisers. The margin of error is 11.66% ±, with a confidence level of 95%.

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