The Netherlands 17, Israel 13
The Dutch, who managed to elect 17 parties to their 150-seat parliament last week were hands down victors this virtual competition; Israel could only manage 13 parties in its 120-seat Knesset this week. Still, that was quite an achievement as several years ago, the quota for gaining representation in Israel’s parliament was raised to 3.25% of the total valid vote supposedly in order to prevent small parties from interfering with the smooth running of government. It seems as if those political machinations by some myopic politicians who thought they were being very farsighted haven’t really succeeded.
And as in a saying often attributed to Albert Einstein, but apparently misattributed because according to Google, someone traced the original back to a mystery novelist, Rita Mae Brown, who credited the quote to a fictional “Jane Fulton” in her 1983 book “Sudden Death“. Ms. Brown wrote: “Unfortunately, Susan didn’t remember what Jane Fulton once said. ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.’”
Whether it was Einstein or a fictional character in a mystery novel published by Bantam Books in 1983, Israeli voters (or about two-thirds of them) went to the polls for the fourth time in under two years with the sole purpose of providing the serving Prime Minister with the gift of a LXI majority, the 61 votes he needs to make it a retroactive law that a sitting Prime Minister cannot be put on trial.
Some went to the polls enthusiastically; others less so.
Prior to the election, the electorate was subjected to all sorts of promises and untruths by the candidates, speaking on behalf of their nebulous parties (Israel’s elected politicians never have to face the voters as responsible individuals) all of which boiled down to whether or not one wished to see the same man ru[i]n the country or give someone else (anyone else, it seems, irrespective of any clear plans they might have had) the opportunity to do something.
We were beckoned by the politicians over the past two months since the election campaign officially began (unofficially, it started immediately after the results of the third election were announced) to come forward and cast our vote for their party.
Not every voter was convinced of the promises she or he was hearing and regarded them with different levels of curiosity and skepticism.
However, notwithstanding the untruths and all the rest of the nonsense, a majority of the voters carried out their civic duty and went to the polls and put a piece of paper with the party symbol into an envelope and thrust it into the ballot box to be counted. (Some others exercised the privilege that a democracy extends to them and elected not to vote. I frown on this reluctance but in retrospect, the breadth of the choices placed in front of us made the decision —— to vote or not to vote — a difficult one.)
And I might add that once a decision had been made and one had chosen to vote, things didn’t get any easier.)
Of course, the whole point of the election as well as aiming to provide stable government, is to produce an fairer society or at least one, the members of which, are able to live with one another.
And so we went to the polls…
… and performed our civic duty and after the process of opening envelopes and tallying their contents, we were officially informed of the unenviable political impasse that we had cast ourselves into.
Others made light of it.
Yet others were saddened by the whole thing and had sleepless nights over it
As for stable government, it’s not going to happen.
And that’s because immediately the results were announced, the illusion of stable government frittered away and we were left with what has become par for the course in Israeli politics — horse-trading, replete with blinkers.
In the sort of horse-trading (or dog-trading, it seems) that goes on after an Israeli election, the rule of the game is:
And then the search for suitable coalition partners begins in earnest.
But keeping control of the beasties that make up Israeli politics and what makes it so exciting is that some of them stick together and are unwilling under any circumstances to attach themselves to other parties.
Others sit on the fence and wait to be approached by one party leader or another.
Others wait patiently, expecting someone to recognize their usefulness.
There are those who walk around in festive dress and just know that nothing can happen without their being there.
Others just want to hide away and have nothing to do with what’s going on.
And while the larger parties need smaller ones in their coalition and while they say without interruption that they will honour all their agreements and promises, what they’re really thinking about is something else entirely.
The long and the sort of it is that we have thrown ourselves into a stockpile of pig shit!
And I hate to say it, but the problem might be soluble
And to those of you to whom it concerns, have a happy Pesach and be careful with the matzah. And in case I don’t manage a post next week, to those of you who celebrate Easter, have a happy holiday.