A guide for the newbie coalition whip

When the Knesset’s summer session began in May, a new coalition chairman, MK David Bitan (Likud), came along with it.

The job of coalition chairman, similar to that of the majority whip in other legislatures, sounds simple enough: Be the disciplinarian who ensures fellow coalition MKs are in attendance when they need to be and vote the way the coalition decided is its policy, and lead whatever negotiations are necessary to make that happen.

Politics being politics, the coalition chairman’s job is always easier said than done, and the position is among the most challenging in the Knesset, though its benefits are significant, including greater prominence in the party and the media and a closer working relationship with the prime minister.

Bitan, a freshman MK, replaced now-Minister-without-Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi after a prolonged battle within the Likud for the position, and as a result, feelings in the party were mixed about him. After a year in which Hanegbi often seemed to be asleep on the job and gave the opposition small victories here and there, the new coalition chairman was someone who had earned a reputation while chairman of the Knesset House Committee as a bulldozer – he gets things done but doesn’t mind trampling whatever and whoever gets in his way. Continue reading

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