When I first came to Israel I was very confused about the electoral system here. I was used to the large, two party system in America, where you were forced to choose between two candidates. Since, in most cases, one candidate did not represent your opinion on every single issue, you had to make a choice that entailed compromise.
At first I thought that the Israeli system was better – since I could choose a small party that I agreed with on every issue. What I quickly learned, though, was that even if this party received enough seats in order to join the Knesset, these Members of Knesset had limited powers.
In some cases, these small parties were ignored in favor of larger ones, and “my representatives” ended up with no power at all. In addition, I came to realize that in the long run it is healthier for the country for people to work together, even if it means that I don’t get everything that I want.
I decided awhile ago to vote for the Likud, and not for the smaller religious parties.
The whole issue of the Disengagement from Gush Katif brought the differences between small parties and larger ones to the fore. Arik Sharon pulled every dirty trick in the book in order to force this through. He had a relatively easy time of it ignoring the smaller parties. But what he couldn’t do was ignore his own.
The so-called Likud “rebels” – those who really were faithful to the party platform and fought Arik Sharon tooth and nail to stop the disengagement – ultimately failed. But they did not fail in forcing Sharon to leave the party and start a new one, Kadima.
In addition, there were Likud Knesset members (Miki Eitan comes to mind) who originally thought that the disengagement was a good idea – but they fought very hard to bring it to a referendum, because they knew that something as controversial as this plan needed to be voted on separately.
My dissatisfaction with the smaller religious parties only increased over the past two years. The national religious public has been begging the politicians to put aside their petty squabbles and unite. They also have demanded, quite rightly in my opinion, that the religious parties open up the ranks to new members, by instituting a primary system instead of a “committee” system to choose the MK list. This would have galvanized younger people to get involved and run to be Knesset members.
The parties have ignored these suggestion, and have just continued with the “same old, same old”. Dissolving the NRP and creating a “new” party is seen as a joke, because there is nothing new about it. Instead of listening to their public, the Knesset members have done everything just to hang on to their seats.
I haven’t voted for them lately, and I fully intend to vote Likud. But I think that there will be many others joining me in the next election who were previously NRP or Ichud HaLeumi voters.