Small Parties, Narrow Interests vs. Large Parties and the Need to Compromise

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.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Risa
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 08:48:40

    I can’t agree more about the NRP, no matter what they go and call themselves this time.
    Too bad.
    I’m still not sure what I”ll do about voting this time. I’m waiting to see what the lists look like and who’s in the field.
    I guess that makes me the ‘kol tzaf’ (floating vote?)…just as long as I don’t sink.

  2. Jacob da Jew
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 14:21:26

    Vote “Aleh Yarok”!

  3. Batya
    Nov 21, 2008 @ 05:14:27

    We’ve been here 38 years, and it used to be so easy. Now, each election is harder. I’ve been blogging about the problem. I know the platform I want for a party, but no politician sees it so simply.
    Risa, let’s just swim off together so we don’t sink.

  4. Gila
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 04:45:33

    Wow! We are on the same page on a political issue! 🙂

    I also used to prefer the smaller parties, based on agreement in principles. Now I am looking at the larger parties and asking “who is most likely to be able to get stuff done”, “who is least likely to end up to be corrupt”, “who is most likely to reinstate the rule of law in this country” (re: West Bank, Mafia, scofflaws, corruption, stores open on Shabbat in blatant disregard for the law, abuse of workers, etc), “who is most likely to actually take advantage of any opportunities for peace” and “who is least likely to give the Education Portfolio to Shas and reinstate child allowances”.

    I never voted from Sharon, but from watching him I did start to understand better the potential advantages (and disadvantages) of having a really good, experienced politician in office. He managed to pull off the impossible. We still have a lot of “impossibles” that need to get done. (And yes, quite a few “impossibles” that you and I can agree with).

    As you can see, the choice is still not particularly easy.

  5. westbankmama
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 07:56:27

    Risa – float on over to the Likud….

    Jacob – Maryjane for Prime Minister?

    Batya – see my comment to Risa…

    Gila – Sharon was not a good example of a good politician, he was an example of a person completely ruthless. This type of person is good on the battlefield in a war, fighting against our enemies.

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