Following the results of yesterday’s general elections in Israel, I have some reflections on democracy. Especially our own democracy.
Israel is a young state. Only 60 years old, it is not surprising that it is still searching for the right method of political order, or governance. Very clear on the fact that it is this version or another of a democracy, a rule of the people, I keep hearing the voice of my high-school history teacher reminding us, in a lesson on 20th century in Europe, that the democracy has what it takes to destroy itself.
If you legislate rules to prevent democracy from destroying itself – you will probably destroy democracy with these rules. Free will of the people is a core of democracy, which is probably why some people in Israel find it difficult to understand the Republic version of governance.
Israel is indeed a democracy when is comes to allowing all of its citizens to voice their will. It seems like we have a political party for every 30 citizens. Which is why this democracy, for years now, has not practiced a real rule of the majority, but rather the rule of the minorities. No party in the history of Israel was big enough to become the ruling party, without the participation of the smaller, minor parties. Those small parties, faithful to their voters, exercised their power as the balancing factor to extract as much as they could in return for supporting the bigger party as the leader of the country.
Yesterday’s elections generated, again, a talk about the need to change the method of governance in Israel. If we are going to be a democracy it should be a rule of the majority. But perhaps the type of a republic will function better. Whichever way you look at it, it seems like the threshold for registering a political party in Israel is way too low. This creates a weak government again and again, which in turn weakens the country and generates a chaos of opinions, instead of a clear targeted government.
The results of the elections yesterday are puzzling: who will lead the country? Is it the party who won the largest number of seats, as it traditionally is? Or is it the party who is the largest, among the group of parties who won the majority of seats? I believe, that most Israeli citizens who voted for the 4 larger parties, would have preferred a “unity” government of those large parties or at least 3 of them, without the minority parties extortion, usually representing the extreme wings of the people. But the thirst for power may blind the leaders of these parties.
The party who received most of the voice is the young centre party “Kadima” (freely translated ‘forward’). But the second largest party, only one seat less than Kadima, is the “Likud” party, the right side of the centre. They claim they should be the ruling party because the collection of right-winged parties, including the many small parties, representing various minority groups, makes a majority of right-winged people in Israel. So, being a democracy, the majority should rule. The Kadima people are saying, obviously, that if they won the largest number of seats, they should be the governing party. A republic might have worked better for Kadima this time.
In the process two other phenomena happened. The party which was the ruling party for most of Israel’s existence, the Labor party, has lost its power and became only fourth in the number of seats it achieved.
The party that became the third in its power is the party called “Israel Beitenu” (translated – “Israel is our home”). This party established in 1999, has now won two more seats than the Labor party and people are wondering about the changes in the political scenery and what it means for the future of the country.
L’État c’est Moi ??
Can’t end this blog post without my observation on the web scenery of the 4 large parties.
If I have to rate them – Israel-Beitenu gets the highest rate. It’s a clear, no nonsense site, easy to find your way in it. All relevant information is accessible from the homepage. A link to the party’s platform is available on the first page. The site offers information in Hebrew, Russian and English. Not surprising, though disappointing, that they offer no information in Arabic, which is the second official language of the state of Israel and is relevant to about 20% of its residents.
The Likud party’s web site could have received a better score, had it not been on the url http://www.netanyahu.org.il/
What is it? L’État c’est Moi ?? Where is the party??
They also offer information in Hebrew, Russian and English only, ignoring the need for Arabic.
The Labor party’s web site must be the worst – with the figure of the candidate to prime minister walking over the screen – I don’t know whether it’s humor or misuse of the medium. Either way, the web site is in Hebrew only, which is amazing considering the fact that a million Jewish citizens are speaking and reading Russian, and even more are Israeli Arab citizens, whose first language is Arabic, a public that the labor party claims to address too.
Competing for the worst web site is also the Kadima web site. No English, no Arabic. A modest link in Russian – hardly enough, considering who they are up against. I don’t believe in the flash animation on the homepage of the party. I’d rather have a straight forward information. And here they make it even harder for me to know what their platform is – since I am required to download PDF files to my computer, if I want to know what they propose on the 9 topics listed at the bottom of an inner page. This information should have been put forward. This is what the party is about. At least in a democracy.