Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Election Souvenir 2006
The sign above (scanned and reduced) is my souvenir from yesterday's Israeli Parliamentary Elections. I didn't vote because I don't have that right, but I did end up with the polling place sign. It had been thrown over the fence into our yard from the school behind our house. I'm not sure if it was thrown in exuberance or exasperation at the results. Perhaps it was simply easier to throw it over our fence than put it in the trash can. In any case, I have a neat souvenir from the 17th Knesset election.
Some have asked what I think of the results. I'm no political expert, but it seems clear that the turnout was disappointingly low, particularly for the Likud (Bibi Netanyahu's party, Sharon's former party). Ariel Sharon's new party, Kadima, came out the winner, but not the big winner. In fact, their 28 seats are less than 1/3 of the seats in Parliament.
This is the second weakest winner in history. The lowest number of seats by a winner is 26, won by the Labor Party (Ehud Barak) in 1999. A note of warning: That government lasted only 18 months.
When I use the word winner it means that a particular party, the Kadima party in this case, has the responsibility of bringing together a coalition of parties to form the government. (Ideally, the winning party would win 61 seats themselves, but that is really unlikely these days, and clearly didn't happen this time.) The less seats a winner has, the more unstable the government seems to be because in order to get the necessary 61 seats, they typically have to bring other parties to the table that have different (sometimes opposing) agendas, which work contrary to each other. And this is when politics really becomes politics.
I'm not making any predictions of brevity or longevity, other than to reference the apparent weakness of winning parties with so few seats.