Appeal to politics of fear worked for Netanyahu

Published Mar. 19, 2015, in the Waterloo Region Record

The Israeli election results are yet another reminder of what travails can be produced by a proportional representation voting system in complicating the democratic process.

Even with a minimum threshold of 3.25 per cent support to gain representation, Tuesday’s election produced 10 legislative parties in the new Knesset (Israel’s parliament), none of which receive more than 25 per cent of the vote. This means the task of forming a government requires cobbling together a deal among a wide range of prospective coalition partners, each with their own demands and agendas, which are frequently incompatible with other parties.

For example, a secular party like Yesh Atid has demands that are incompatible with the different Jewish religious parties (Ashkenazi and Sephardic). There is also a party that appeals to Russian immigrant voters, a party to the right of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, and one to the left of Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union (formerly Labour), not to mention a newly aggregated bloc of Arab parties that would prefer to see the Jewish state disappear.

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Netanyahu must turn to domestic concerns

Published Jan. 26, 2013, in The Waterloo Region Record

Those familiar with Israel’s electoral system will know that identification of the leading party and the prime minister-designate in a parliamentary election like the one held Tuesday is only the beginning of a long, arduous negotiating process to determine the shape of the new government, something that can take weeks.

While incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu is effectively the only plausible choice for prime minister after this week’s voting, his Likud party and its partner Israel Beteinu dropped from 42 seats in the previous Knesset (parliament) to just 31, barely halfway to forming even a bare majority in the 120-seat legislature, and it would require a substantially larger coalition to have any stability.

Most of Netanyahu’s decline was taken up by a new more conservative party, Bayit Yehudah. Of even greater consequence, however, is that the overall aggregation of right-wing and religious parties that sustained him in the past fell from 65 seats to 61, effectively insufficient to form a government on their own.

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