In America elections usually involve two major parties and two or three minor parties. This is true because almost all American voters can agree to vote for one or the other party, and there are only 300 million Americans. Not every American believes that he or she would make a better president or member of Congress than the person currently serving.
Israel is different. We have six million residents and almost every Israeli knows that he or she would make a better prime minister than the person currently on the job. It is amazing, therefore, that there are only 33 political parties running in the current election.
Several of the smaller parties are quite interesting. The slogan of the “Ahrayut” (Responsibility) party is “One heart and a new spirit.” Its members want to alter the structure of government and add a constitution. The platform of the “Brit Olam” is peace and security for our children. The “HaYisraelim” Party purports to represent the “silent majority” against politics.
The “Green” Party has joined with “Meimad” (a party run by Rabbi Melchior) to support Jewish-Arab coexistence, & nbsp; environmental issues, and civil rights. “Koah Hakesef” aims to destroy the Israel banking system because “banks cause poverty.” The “Lev” party, composed mostly of Bukharian Jews, is a peace party that wants to improve the standard of living for immigrants from Central Asia.
A homeless man founded the “Lehem” party to fight government corruption. The prevention of traffic accidents is a major platform of the “Lazuz” Party platform. The “Men’s Rights” party believes that divorce courts favor women, and the “Green Leaf” party wants to legalize marijuana and hashish. There used to be a “Taxi Drivers” party and “Teachers” party.
With a two percent minimum vote requirement to qualify for Knesset seats, many votes are simply lost, but considering the philosophy of some of the parties, this may not be a bad thing. In this election, 10 – 13 political parties (of the 33) will win representation in the Knesset.
“For every Jew, two opinions” seems true, because less than a week before elections, many voters have not made up their minds. On Election Day there can be important swings in the voter decisions because many do not decide whom to vote for until they get into the voting booth and see the 33 ballot choices.
Voting is done manually, wherein the voter chooses one piece of paper and places it in the envelope.
You should know the results of the elections before you read this article, but you may not know who will be in the government coalition. It is obvious that no single party will receive even close to a majority of the 120 Knesset seats. The largest parties, Likud and Kadima, will each receive around 23 – 25 seats, and even if they join together to form a coalition government (which they, most probably, will not) they still will not have a majority.
The formation of a coalition may take several weeks, which, unfortunately, means that Olmert will remain prime minister until the new government is formed.
The coalition negotiations will force the major parties to promise the smaller parties almost anything they want, to convince the smaller parties to join them. Not all of the parties will join a left-wing coalition or a right-wing coalition, and the anti-religious parties in a coalition will limit the demands of the ultra-religious parties in the same coalition. The coalition formation process requires strong nerves and lots of patience.
Unfortunately, one of the largest “smaller” parties is the Russian “Yisrael Beiteinu” Party, led by Avigdor Lieberman. This party will fight for civil marriage, public Shabbat transportation, and legalizing the sale of pork.
Shas, the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Party is also a large “small” party and it, too, may have a strong influence on a future government. If both join the government coalition, their demands may cancel each other out.
The religious Zionists, unfortunately, split up again after a short-lived attempt at unity, and their influence will be rather small.
(Comments may be sent to email@example.com)Dov Gilor