Israel just had an election. We are told that Netanyahu defeated his rival Herzog to win the election. Hold on a minute, we don’t understand how the Israeli political system works. Israel has 34 political parties, in a parliamentary system that requires coalitions to be formed in order for a candidate to muster the required majority of 61 seats to form a majority in the Knesset. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu won either 29 or 30 seats but still has to form a government by getting other political parties to be willing to join him in governing the country.
Last election, we thought that Netanyahu had lost by one seat but his rival was given the first opportunity to form a government but she could not get not get a coalition together to govern. Netanyahu still has to put together a government by gaining another 31 or 32 seats.
Is this the way to run a government? Is this the way to have representative government? On the surface it seems like with so many political parties each person’s views would be represented, if you pass the threshold of 3% that Israel requires. But there are serious negatives, in that the rule of the majority is far more difficult to reach. Let us assume that the polling is correct in that the majority of Israelis want a two state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. In order to form a coalition government promises are made to the leaders of political parties that might in one respect or another disagree with Netanyahu’s one state position regarding Palestine. But if that person is offered let us say a housing position and his primary concern is the lack of affordable housing, his ambition to solve that issue may cause him to put on the back burner his belief in a two state solution. You might conclude from this is that Democracy is messy.
If a leader is too ambitious he might be willing to shake hands with the Devil in order to form a government. Take Foreign Minister Lieberman for example. A recent quote of Lieberman’s a couple of days ago was that if a Palestinian citizen of Israel were found to be disloyal to Israel, that person should be beheaded.
If Netanyahu is to form a coalition government he needs to have Lieberman and his party of ultra radicals be part of the coalition if he is to truly win the election.
Forming a consensus is more difficult when you have such a fractured political structure with 34 political parties. Israel has a greater problem of income inequality than the United States has, and with that fact they have serious domestic issues that need to be resolved. With such an emphasis on the part of Netanyahu on security the domestic needs go wanting, and their problems will more likely continue to fester.
Israel has a multiple parties and they are finding governing and solving their serious problems difficult at best. Trading security in lieu of liberty and the pursuit of happiness endangers Israel more than the enemies at their gates.