First, if you haven’t already, you should read yesterday’s post of Hillel Schenker’s pre-election thoughts. Then, you should read Ron Skolnik’s excellent summary of a program co-sponsored by Meretz USA two days ago, featuring the insightful Israeli journalist, Gershom Gorenberg.
Unfortunately, our friends in the Israeli Meretz party are not getting the attention and support that they deserve. Please check out the brand new World Union of Meretz Web site and read at least one of the following two articles posted there from Haaretz: “I’m voting Meretz” by Amos Schocken (the publisher of Haaretz) and “Meretz leader to Haaretz: Two-state solution on last legs. Ari Shavit Loves Jumas”
As for the election itself, aside from looking on with a mixture of hope and dread (perhaps a larger dose of dread), I must agree with Yossi Alpher’s observation on Israel’s dysfunctional electoral system, from the Americans for Peace Now Web site:
… the four leading parties–Likud, Kadima, Yisrael Beitenu and Labor– will end up with somewhere between (in descending order) 25 and 15 mandates. Four medium-sized parties whose philosophies encompass nearly the entire spectrum of secular Zionist views are a recipe for lack of governability, to say nothing of lack of a viable peace process.
Once again we are reminded that the Israeli political system, while offering ultra-democratic representation to the most isolated minority and sectarian views, is ill-suited for the task of governance, and particularly for dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
If you still have the time and patience for online reading, you might check out my new piece at the “In These Times” magazine Web site.
Obviously, if the goal is more “stable” governance, the fix would be a vastly more disproportional electoral system–not just small tweaks to the extreme form of PR Israel has always had.
I suppose I can at least admire Meretz USA for raising this issue, as there can be no doubt that Meretz would the first party out of business under almost any imaginable disproportional system.
(Just the view of one international electoral systems specialist.)
In the US we vote for the best candidate we think can win rather than the best candidate because of the winner take all system. But in Israel, with proportional representation, so long as you are assured that the party you like is polling over 2% it does not seem to be a wasted vote. Why then would left leaning folks vote for Kadima? Is it because parties with larger votes get weighted more so your vote counts for a larger fraction of a seat if you vote for a more popular party?