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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Confusion, Uncertainty in Israel

If anyone is still dismayed by our own electoral system, either because of remnants of 2000, the continued nonsense in Minnesota, or because you can't understand the electoral college let alone why New Hampshire and Iowa play such a massive role in the primary, then never fear because what is currently happening in Israel should make you feel a lot better about our own system. If anyone believes that the Parliamentary system is better than our own Republic, then just take a look at the confusion and uncertainty that is continuing in Israel.

I am just a simple guy and to me Kadima won. That's because the Kadima Party got the most votes and thus got the most Legislative seats. Of course, the Parliamentary system is far too complicated for my simple mind. Even though Kadima did in fact get the most votes of any single party, the results continue to be in doubt. That's because the second place finisher, Likud, and its leader, Bibi Netanyahu, are claiming that they have enough seats to form a governing majority.

The Parliamentary system is known for its multi party system. In nearly all elections, no one gets a majority. A majority is created by pooling together a number of parties to form a governing coalition. Here is where things get complicated in Israel.

The third place finisher, Israel Beteinu, is most closely alligned ideologically with Likud. In fact, the right ideology, lead by Likud, won enough seats to form a governing majority. As such, while Likud finished in second, its leader immediately claimed victory. If Likud in fact winds up leading the government then in fact, in this Israeli election the folks weren't voting for a specific candidate or even a party but rather by ideology.

Then again, the whole point of a Parliamentary system is to put folks of competing ideologies and have them govern together. As such, there is no reason for Israel Beteinu not to become part of the ruling government with Kadima. That is unless its leader simply refuses. As such, the real power in this election appears to be held in the hands of the third place finisher.

If you are really looking for cynicism, here is the reality. The election appears to be trivial. The results are largely irrelevant. The winner of this election will be the one that emerges from those smoke filled rooms that politicians occupy in which deals are struck. The voters will in fact have little to do with who the next Prime Minister in Israel will be. If that doesn't give you affirmation of the sensibility of our own system, nothing will.

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