Just because Bob from Brockley is on the blogroll doesn't mean that you necessarily get to read him. So, there's this from his site. His topic is, inter alia, an exploration of the problems that Israel's version of parliamentary democracy throws up.
Although it's not our place, as non-Israelis, to pass judgements on the electoral system that Israel's founders chose, as a Jew, I'm going to anyway. It's like responding to a question with a question, at least, it is if you're Ashkenazi. So why wouldn't I question Israel's voting system?
It is, of course, all Ben Gurion's fault. Just like the comments he never made about clearing the area set aside for Jews, in the Peel partition proposal, of Arabs (go google it and make sure you include Dina Porat of TAU in your google, if you don't already know - and yes, I can talk to you like that, because I'm among friends, aren't I?), we can blame him for Israel's crazy proportional representation system. In Bob's article, he quotes from political scientist Daniel J. Elazar as follows: "Any group that wins a touch more than a bare 1 percent of the popular vote in a Knesset election gains a seat in the Knesset and, under present conditions, a chance to enter the governing coalition and indeed the government itself under advantageous conditions. The end result of all this, however, is to frustrate both necessary dimensions of good government. The government that results must rest upon so delicately balanced a coalition that it cannot muster the energy necessary to govern effectively, while the electoral system is so party-based that the people feel unrepresented most of the time."
As I commented on the Engage site, when the (un)lovely Ran Greenstein (Associate Prof of Sociology at the Uni of Johannesburg and ex-Israeli - not that that stops him doing an "asaJew" number on us) was arguing in favour of BDS - in this case concerning the water project between Ben Gurion Uni, Al Quds Uni and the Jordanians - the Israeli electoral system throws up coalition governments that no-one voted for and no-one likes, but every Israeli has to live with. I mean, as Bob notes, did those of you not living in Israel know that there are 14 (that's FOURTEEN) political parties represented in the Knesset, as we speak? And there are only 144 seats available in that Parliament. No wonder nothing meaningful ever happens. For goodness sake, the UK Parliament has, at present, 635 MPs representing (please allow me to exclude Northern Ireland, if only because that hurts my head at this time of night) some 5 political parties and 70 million people. Which system makes more sense? Even allowing that the UK should have a better system.
There's lots of other goodies in Bob's article. I hope you read this far and the whole article, even though the link is at the beginning of the article.
By Brian Goldfarb.
Update: There are several technicalities to correct in that post:
- First of all, the original post on Bob's place is written by TNC (The New Centrist).
- Then, as indeed it was commented, there are 120 seats in the Knesset and not 144.
- And finally, the threshold for getting a party into Knesset is already 2% now, which doesn't seem to help, so probably a rise is indicated, with appropriate protection for minorities built-in.