Israeli Political Gridlock

Many phrases were used to describe the outcome of the recent Israeli elections: ”gridlock”, “deadlock”,”a semi right turn” “stalemate.” And indeed it was each of the former.

The result of the election where one party (Kadima) leads its closest rival(Likud) by one seat has led to a scramble by both parties to find allies and support in order to reach the magic number of 61 Knesset seats .This will give them a majority in the 120 seat Knesset and enable them to govern. The system of proportional representation allows the political parties (and there are many of them) who contested the election and received 2% of the votes cast to be eligible for a Knesset seat. And as such they are being courted by the leading parties in a desperate search for those 61 seats. Ministerial positions, funding for pet projects, support for controversial issues are offered to gain the necessary support.

This is the Achilles heel of Israeli politics and has been since the very first Knesset elections some 60 years ago. Too many parties invariably lead to the outcome we have seen time and again.

The system has caused precious few administrations to serve a full four year term. It is a system that leads to the gridlock referred to earlier. It is time for Israel to cut the Gordian knot and change a failing system.

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