Monday, November 21

The Israeli Pre-election Earthquake

After Amir Peretz’s election as leader of the Labour Party, he had managed to shake up the political parties with his energy that reverberated right across the political spectrum. He had managed to get all the parties to agree to elections to clear the air. This controversial politician has breathed new life into the Labour Party. As Haaretz had reported, he had achieved his goal of pushing forward early elections and getting all the parties to agree on that.

Amir Peretz had succeeded in getting his party out of its “political hibernation” in the Likud coalition. He is a catalyst for change even in the Likud. This was overdue. If the Labor Party remained in the Likud coalition, the electorate would view them as a partner to the blunders made towards the economically deprived. Many shudders have occurred in the Likud.

Ariel Sharon has decided to leave the Likud and start a new party called (rather clumsily) the National Responsibility Party. This has created a precedent as a prime minister resigned from the party that he led. It remains to be seen whether it will strengthen his support or not. At this stage, it is difficult to say. Fourteen Likud MKs have left the Likud and joined Ariel Sharon’s Party. Some Labour party members are not happy about Amir Peretz’s election as leader and could bolt the party to join up with Ariel Sharon at a later stage. Chaim Ramon, a Labour cabinet minister without portfolio, has decided to join the new party. What is amazing is how a new leader of the Labour Party has caused such political rumblings. Israeli politics prior to that had reached a new low of pettiness and ineptitude. However if we look back on Israel’s electoral history, small breakaway parties have disintegrated into the mainstream party blocs. It is true that in this case the situation is more complicated in that most Likud cabinet ministers supported Sharon in his disengagement move. Despite that, the opposition by many members in the Likud to his policies made his situation in the Likud untenable and this had prompted Sharon to leave the Likud that he had established.

The situation now is very unclear politically and it is doubtful if elections will alter anything. Superficially, there does seem to be a political earthquake. However, when the dust settles it will be back to business as usual. No political party in Israel has ever gained an absolute majority and relies on gaining the most votes in order to form a viable ruling coalition. The future elections will be no different! Every election over the past two decades have made the situation worse politically and more difficult to form coalitions. Strange bedfellows, with opposing ideologies, joined coalitions that had become unwieldy in the past as well as unstable. There was competition in the wheeling and dealing after the elections as to who was going to benefit the most from the victory crumbs of the largest political party for the narrow interests that many smaller parties represent. Shas is the biggest culprit in this game. They are only interested in their own religious communities. Shas will join any coalition that promises to finance their yeshiva and pseudo-educational systems. The right wing parties will also demand state financial aid on the expanding of settlements beyond the green line as well as establishing new settlements as a condition for entering a coalition. History will repeat itself as the political corruption and blackmail will rear its ugly head in the aftermath of the elections.

In practical terms, elections will solve nothing. The Israeli electorate will vote in many different directions and the small parties will have the balance of power whatever happens. The electoral system of proportional representation as it stands is in dire need of reform. There are too many parties involved which renders the so-called winners unable to gain an absolute majority thus resulting in the chaos of forming a ruling coalition as already mentioned earlier in this article.

1 comment:

A Christian Prophet said...

Over on The Christian Prophet blog the Holy Spirit says Likud will still be a strong influence, but overall the situation will be weaker. Strangely, maybe as a teaching device, it is said that Jews might someday prefer living in Iraq.