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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘party’

The Unpredicted Consequences of the German Elections

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

The German elections had two important consequences, one predicted, the other one unpredicted. As expected, the number of Islamic members of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, has increased.

The Christian-Democrat CDU of Chancellor Angela Merkel now has its first Muslim parliamentarian. Cemile Giousouf, the 35-year old daughter of a Turkish immigrant, was elected in Hagen, a city in the industrial Ruhr area with a foreign population of 40%.

Germany has 800,000 Turkish voters. The Turks make up the largest ethnic group within Germany’s Muslim population of some 4 million people, Previously, the Turks had five parliamentarians out of 630 Bundestag members; in the 22 September general elections, this number more than doubled to eleven. Ten of them belong to the left or far-left – five are members of the Social-Democrat SPD, three of the Green Party, and two of the Communist Die Linke (Left Party) — and one is with the center-right CDU.

The number of Bundestag members with an immigrant background rose from 21 to 34, with Die Linke having the highest percentage of immigrant politicians in their ranks followed by the Greens.

Ms. Giousouf’s Islamic convictions — her “religious otherness” as she calls it — did not pose problems for a party that claims to be founded on Christian-Democrat principles. Her candidacy was challenged, however, by another female candidate on grounds of seniority. Despite the other candidate having been active in the party for three decades, the CDU leadership preferred to give the prominent position on the party list to Giousouf because of her ethnic background. Ms. Giousouf defended this decision by stating, “If we immigrants are forced to put up campaign posters for the next 30 years, there won’t be any [immigrant] representatives in the Bundestag.”

For the first time, two black candidates were elected in the Bundestag. One of them, Charles Muhamed Huber, for Merkel’s CDU, the other, Karamba Diaby, for the Social-Democrat SPD. Both Mr Huber and Mr Diaby are of Senegalese origin.

While the international media devoted relatively little attention to Mr. Huber — despite his self-declared sympathy for the American Black Panther movement — there was huge interest in Mr Diaby, who was born in 1961 in the Muslim village of Masassoum. Through his political activities at Dakar University in the early 1980s, he came into contact with a Communist organization. In 1985, he was given a scholarship to study in Communist East Germany, where he subsequently settled.

Mr Diaby joined the SPD and became the national chairman of Gemany’s Immigration and Integration Council (Bundeszuwanderungs-und Integrationsrat). Two years ago, he gained prominence when he advocated the imprisonment of Thilo Sarrazin, a fellow SPD politician and a former member of the Executive Board of the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank. Mr. Sarrazin had authored a book, Deutschland schafft sich ab [Germany Abolishes Itself], in which he said that Islamic immigration is threatening Germany’s prosperity and freedom. Mr. Sarrazin argued that most Islamic immigrants are unwilling to integrate and tend to rely more on welfare benefits than do other immigrant groups.

Turkish and Islamic organizations accused Sarrazin of “racism,” but were unable to get him sentenced in court. The SPD leadership twice attempted to throw Mr. Sarrazin out of the party, but both attempts were unsuccessful. Polls indicated that Sarrazin was backed by an overwhelming majority of the Germans, including SPD members. Mr. Diaby petitioned the Bundestag, demanding that German criminal law be changed to ensure that statements such as those made in Sarrazin’s book would be punishable with a prison sentence. The German lawmakers, however, failed to do so. The SPD leadership subsequently gave Mr. Diaby a prominent place on its electoral list, which enabled him to be elected as a lawmaker, so that he is now in a position to try to change German laws from within the parliament.

While the growth of Islamic influence within the German political system, including the Christian-Democrat Party, was predicted, an unpredicted consequence of the September 22 general elections was the Bundestag’s swing to the left, despite the electorate’s swing to the right. This is the result of the German electoral system with its 5% electoral threshold.

The biggest winners of the elections were Chancellor Merkel’s center-right Christian-Democrats. They won 41.5% of the vote — far better than in the 2009 general elections, when they had 33.7%.

The biggest losers were the Liberals. The German Liberal Party FDP, which is economically to the right of Merkel’s CDU, fell from 14.6% in 2009 to 4.8%. The electorate punished the FDP, which had promised its voters tax cuts but, despite forming a government coalition with Ms. Merkel, failed to deliver on this promise.

Although the FDP won over 2 million of the 43.7 million votes, as the party was unable to make the 5% hurdle, and as a result it did not get a single parliamentary seat. The same applied to the conservative Alternative fuer Deutschland party (AfD), a newly established party, critical of the euro. AfD won 4.7% of the vote, an unexpectedly high result for a new party, but not a single representative. The far-right NPD won 1.3%. Taken together, 10.8% of the electorate voted for a party to the right of Merkel’s Christian-Democrats, but not a single parliamentarian to Merkel’s right got elected.

Merkel’s Christian-Democrats, the FDP, AfD and NPD combined won 52.3% of the vote (51%, excluding the far-right NPD). However, in the Bundestag the parties of the Left — SPD, Greens and the Communists of Die Linke – hold 50.7% of the seats.

That the FDP fell just below the electoral threshold deprives Merkel of the possibility to form a center-right coalition. Theoretically, the left is able to form a coalition with the far-left, but as the SPD had ruled out governing with Die Linke, Germany is left with just two choices: Either a coalition of Merkel with the leftist Greens, or a so-called “grand coalition” of the CDU with the center-left SPD.

In any event, Germany’s new coalition will be to the left of the previous CDU-FDP coalition, while the voters had clearly indicated that they wanted Germany to turn to the right. The future looks promising, however, for AfD. Never before has a party that was established barely a few months before, done so well in the elections. And given that Merkel will be forced to move to the left, the prospect of disenchanted conservative Christian-Democrats flocking to AfD are huge. There is little doubt that AfD will gain seats in the European Parliament in next year’s European elections. If the AfD leadership manages to avoid internal quarrels, in 2017 the party will likely enter the Bundestag.

Peter Martino

Erdogan: Israel Behind Egypt Coup

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel was behind last month’s military coup in Egypt.

Erdogan told a meeting of the provincial chairs of his ruling Justice and Development, or AKP, party that he has evidence that Israel was involved in the July 3 overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Turkish Hurriyet news service reported.

“Who is behind this? Israel. We have evidence,” the prime minister said, according to Hurriyet.

He cited as proof a statement by a French intellectual he identified as Jewish, who told the Israeli justice minister during a visit to France before Egypt’s 2011 elections, “The Muslim Brotherhood will not be in power even if they win the elections. Because democracy is not the ballot box,” Hurriyet reported.

The White House condemned Erdogan’s remarks.

“Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated and wrong,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters later Tuesday.

Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and later expelled Israel’s ambassador following the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in May 2010 that resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish nationals in a confrontation with Israeli Navy commandos. The ship was trying to evade Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan in March for the incident, and representatives of the countries have met for reconciliation talks. The talks reportedly are held up over the amount of compensation that Israel is to pay to the families of the Turkish casualties and how the payments are to be characterized.

JTA

‘Australia’s Sarah Palin’ Quits Race over Islam Gaffe (Video)

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Stephanie Banister, 27, a candidate for Australia’s anti-immigration One Nation party, dropped out of the election race on Saturday, after an interview in which she referred to Islam as a country.

“I don’t oppose Islam as a country, but I do feel that their laws should not be welcome here in Australia,” Banister said in a Wednesday interview to the Seven Network. The interview went viral in short order, endowing Banister with the nickname “Australia’s Sarah Palin.”

She went on to tell the riveted—if somewhat horrified—masses that only two percent of Australians follow the “haram” – referring to the Koran – and then voiced her enthusiastic support for kosher food for Jewish people, because “Jews aren’t under haram. They have their own religion which follows Jesus Christ.”

Bet you didn’t know.

On Saturday, Banister withdrew her candidacy for the September 7 election, which she was contesting for anti-immigration zealot Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party in Queensland.

Party leader Jim Savage insisted the resignation came not over IQ issues and her a lack of familiarity with current events, but because of Islamic persecution: “Due to the threats against Stephanie’s family, herself, her children, the abuse she’s copped and the enormous pressure she’s been put under, Stephanie has decided she wants to withdraw from the candidacy for the seat of Rankin,” Savage said.

Fear of persecution appears to be a running theme in One nation. In 1997, founder Pauline Hanson recorded a video which was to be screened to One Nation members and supporters in the event of her assassination.


Yori Yanover

The Right Moment for Israel’s Danny Danon?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

Lunacy.” That’s how Danny Danon describes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to hand over 104 killers to the Palestinian Authority as a “goodwill gesture.”

He’s hardly alone, as many observers (including myself) are outraged by this move. But Danon, 42, has a unique place in this debate because he (1) sits in Israel’s parliament as a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, he (2) is chairman of Likud’s powerful Central Committee, and he (3) serves as Israel’s deputy minister of Defense. In American terms, his criticism resembles Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s 2010 interview mocking Vice President Joe Biden. But McChrystal was gone within days whereas Danon continues to gain influence and stature.

Danon’s ability to denounce his own prime minister’s actions points to his not being a routine politician. Three qualities stand out: a devotion to principle, a mastery of tactics, and the ability to articulate a vision.

Daniel Pipes testifying before the Knesset's Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, chaired by Danny Danon, in March 2012.

Daniel Pipes testifying before the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, chaired by Danny Danon, in March 2012.

Danon has remained true to the core principles of his party and his country. His righteous opposition when his party makes mistakes – such as the 2009 freeze on building residences for Jews on the West Bank or accepting the two-state solution – shows a strength of character. As he points out, “It’s not easy being in a room of thirty people, alone saying no.”

His rise through Israel’s national camp institutions reveals tactical skill: serving as assistant to Uzi Landau, as head of the World Betar Organization, then head of the World Likud Organization, as organizer of street protests and challenger to the prime minister for the party’s leadership. These efforts culminated in his strong showing in his party’s electoral list (coming in No. 5) and the jaw-dropping 85 percent of the vote he won in elections to lead Likud’s Central Committee. With reason, the Forward newspaper calls him “a master of social and conventional media” and the Times of Israel deems him “a major stumbling block toward Palestinian statehood.”

Finally, the vision: Its fullest articulation is found in his 2012 book, Israel: The Will to Prevail (Palgrave), where he sketches an ambitious and contrarian view of his country’s foreign policy. Arguing that “history shows us Israel is often better off when she acts on her own behalf … even if that means contravening the wishes of U.S. administrations,” he concludes that the Jewish state “fares best when she makes decisions based on her own best interests.” Jerusalem, he holds, should pursue its goals “with or without backing from her allies.” This argument, commonplace enough for most states, is audacious in the case of small, beleaguered Israel.

Danon’s moment may have arrived. As Netanyahu appears to be making excessive and immoral concessions to the Palestinian Authority, Danon has emerged as a leading dissident ready to challenge his prime minister (remember “lunacy”). Should Netanyahu feel no longer welcome in his own party and leave it to found a new one (following exactly in Ariel Sharon’s 2005 footsteps), Danon will be a potential candidate to lead Likud and win a subsequent election.

One sign of his rise is the invective used against him. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni coined the term “Danonism” and demanded that Netanyahu reject it. Gideon Levy, an extreme left columnist for Ha’aretz newspaper, disdainfully but fearfully writes that “little Danny Danon will be big, the sugar of the Israeli right. … [he] will go far.”

Looked at in historical perspective, since the taciturn but principled Yitzhak Shamir left the prime ministry in 1992, his six successors variously engaged in political betrayal, ethical corruption, and delusional egotism. Sharon (2001-06) abandoned his electoral mandate to the point that he had to flee his own party, even as his financial shenanigans had him in constant trouble with the law. Ehud Olmert (2006-09) had to resign due to a cloud of corruption charges. Focused on the Iranian threat, Netanyahu did well since 2009 but his recent offer of 104 murderers disturbingly contradicts the electoral platform of a half year ago.

Daniel Pipes

US and IDF (American) Soldiers Celebrate 4th of July Together

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Thursday, July 4th, 30 North American soldiers and officers celebrated American Independence Day together with over 150 IDF lone soldiers who made Aliyah from the United States with the assistance of Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency For Israel and Tzofim Garin Tzabar. These organizations, along with Friends of the IDF (FIDF), fund events like the Fourth of July party to build relationships with the soldiers throughout their military service and to also provide them with personal and financial support.

The celebration took place at Gordon Beach in Tel Aviv honoring the classic American traditions, including a BBQ, beer, American music and much red, white and blue.

Players from the Judean Rebels of the Israeli Football League, also founded by immigrants from the United States, joined the party as well. There are over 600 amateur and professional football players in Israel, who meet every week in different locations throughout the country to play and enjoy the game they learned back home. The vast majority of the players are immigrants who came to Israel from North America through Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency For Israel.

Erez Halfon vice chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, said: “Nefesh B’Nefesh and FIDF wanted to celebrate this day with some of the soldiers who immigrated to Israel and left behind family and friends, but are still connected to the traditions and memories.”

US and IDF Soldiers

US and IDF Soldiers

Jewish Press Staff

Will the Likud Remain Democratic?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

One piece of political news that probably went unnoticed to most, especially among all the coalition-negotiation rumors, was that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering cancelling the Likud’s primaries.

An article about this was first published on Jan. 28th,  just after the Knesset election on Israel’s Walla news site. Then, over the last few days it sprung up again in Ma’ariv/NRG and Yediot. Another Feb. 10 article in Ma’ariv claims that the Prime Minister intends to have the primaries cancelled before ministers are sworn into the government – that is, potentially in a matter of weeks.

To most people this is just internal party politics, but it’s really not. It directly affects the democratic nature of the State of Israel. In Israel, voters do not choose individual candidates, they choose slates. In effect, there are 120 legislators, but not a single representative. The candidates themselves are chosen via internal party processes – sometimes by a committee – a larger “central committee” or a smaller secretariat or selection committee – sometimes by the chairman, sometimes by the membership in an open primary. Those primaries are the only opportunity a citizen has to vote for an actual legislator, the only time a legislator directly faces a citizen and is held accountable for his record.

Unfortunately, only a few parties hold primaries. Likud and Labor do. This past election cycle, the Jewish Home held primaries, but only half of its list was chosen in the primaries, the rest by the central committee of T’kuma/the National Union. Kadima held primaries for its chairman, but cancelled its primaries for its list because it was expected to only get a maximum of 3 seats (in the end it got two). In total, about 42-3 Members of Knesset were chosen in primaries, meaning about  1/3rd of Knesset Members were chosen by actual people and not by party bosses. Even more unfortunate, is the fact that only a small percentage, something like three percent, of the public is eligible to vote in a party primary, and even less actually do vote.

But still it’s a start. If Israel won’t change over to a district-based electoral system (one representative per district), the only hope for the Members of Knesset being chosen by the people is through the primaries.

The alleged reason for cancelling primaries is, reportedly, that there are those who believe that the Likud’s list was too right-wing and that cost it votes and at the same time, not all party members voted for the party. Or in other words, the “settlers” registered to the party to push candidates like Tzipi Hotovely, Danny Danon, Ze’ev Elkin, Yariv Levin and Moshe Feiglin. The problem with that allegation is that there are many factions within the party who behave this way (like unions and members registered by vote contractors); there probably was a higher voting rate among settlers who were registered for the Likud then those who weren’t;  and of the 11 seats the Likud-Beytenu list lost from its prior standing the Knesset, seven mandates worth of votes went to the right. Any internal party player, especially the Prime Minister knows all this.

It is true though that the primaries are intensely manipulated – by the various factions/MKs/branch chairmen/vote contractors (vote contracting, as I have explained elsewhere refers to the practice of registering people to the party and then kind of bargaining with their votes for personal gain). This is a huge problem. But this manipulation can only take place because so few people are registered to the party. Many of them are registered by internal players, who can trade on their votes.

If, on the other hand, a million or 500,000 people  instead of 120,000 were registered to the Likud, and those people were registered by the party itself and not for any specific internal party player, it would be too hard for any vote contractor or even group, such as a union, to register and control the numbers necessary to manipulate the system. Vote contracting in its current powerful form, would be a thing of the past.

That would require an immense registration effort by the party over several years. That is very possible. In Israel, however, long term solutions, are not the preferred solutions. It’s easier and more seductive to maneuver one’s way to power, which in this case may mean canceling the primaries and concentrate power in the hands of an even smaller group of people.

Daniel Tauber

The Likud’s Alleged Rightward Shift

Monday, December 10th, 2012

On the night the Likud’s top 35 candidates for the Knesset were announced, the Israeli media immediately came to several conclusions about the Likud, which it did not even attempt to veil: the Likud had decisively shifted rightward, Moshe Feiglin had conquered the Likud, and the Likud could no longer be the true Likud as Benny Begin, Michael Eitan and Dan Meridor, who did not win secure spots on the list. At best these conclusions were sensationalism and at worst Leftist bias.

A Right-Wing Takeover?

The Likud’s list today is very similar to what it was in 2008 and the next Likud Knesset faction will be very similar to the current Knesset faction. Of the first 25 spots on the Likud’s list (prior to the merger of the list with Yisrael Beitenu’s) 20 are part of the current Likud Knesset faction. Several more would have been part of the first 25 (like Begin) if not for the fact that the Likud reserves about 15 spots on its list for new candidates, in this case spots 22-37.

True, some new Likud Members of Knesset like Danny Danon, Yariv Levin, Ze’ev Elkin and Tzipi Hotovely who comprise the party’s right flank did much better than expected and it was true that Moshe Feiglin finally earned a secure spot on the party’s list.

But Feiglin ranked only 14th in the primaries. That’s hardly conquering the party. He had already ranked 20th in the 2008 primaries and was only moved down on the list after district and demographic spots were moved up by virtue of an internal Likud court decision which changed the rules of the game after the game was over. So in a way he had already succeeded in the 2008 primaries and was simply re-elected. He is also incredibly active politically and has been for twenty years.

Elkin was previously number 20 on the list, having been elected on the first “oleh spot” (immigrants spot) on the party’s list in 2008. This time he won spot number nine. While Elkin takes pride in the fact that he lives in a caravan in Judea and Samaria he is also very close to Netanyahu. He is currently the coalition/Likud faction chairman. The 21st spot on the Likud’s list for an oleh candidate (not necessarily a “new oleh”) this time around was a safety net for him, having been put in place by Netanyahu.

Levin won in a district spot in 2008 (number 21). This time he ranked 11th. While he is a very trusted friend of settlement-based factions in the Likud, he never publicly challenge Netanyahu. He was also a member of an internal Likud committee and in the Knesset was the chair of the House committee which  controlled the flow of legislation. He was hardly an outsider to the party.

In addition to the more nationalist MKs who succeeded, many others also did well who are not ideological: Silvan Shalom (previously number 7, now number 4) supported the Disengagement. Tzachi HaNegbi was a member of Kadima, now he is number 17. Yisrael Katz (then 11, now 5), Haim Katz (then 14 now 13), Carmel Hashama Cohen (then district spot number 25, now 21) are not considered ideologically motivated Likudniks.

Miri Regev (then 27, now 14) is considered one of those extremist young MKs and she also did well, but my impression of her is that she isn’t very ideological. She was the IDF spokesperson during the Disengagement and a very ideological person would have resigned from such a position when the citizens’ army was turned against about 8,000 citizens in Gaza and the Shomron. My feeling is that she realized after the Central Committee elections in January that the settlement-based groups controlled a large bloc of votes and were well organized, so she made a decision to pander to them.

Many other more middle-of-the-road Ministers ranked high: Gideon Sa’ar and Gilad Erdan were the top vote-getters in 2008 and today, ranking 2nd and 3rd on the list; Moshe Ya’alon ranked eighth in 2008, and now seventh; Yuli Edelstein remained at number 12; Yuval Steinitz and Limor Livnat retained secure spots, despite dropping on the list (Steinitz dropped from nine to 16, and Livnat from 13 to 18).

Daniel Tauber

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/hadar/the-likuds-alleged-rightward-shift/2012/12/10/

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