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Israeli political system is on the verge of collapse (experts)

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The situation when, for the first time in the history of Israel, the elections to the Knesset in April 2019 did not lead to the creation of a coalition and the formation of a new government, may happen again, experts say.

The head of the department of scientific research at the Institute of Alexander Massa, historian and political scientist Mikhail Shternshis talks about the death of the political system of Israel in the form that it was given to it by the founding fathers of the state 70 years ago.

“Yes, this is a systemic failure. This is the failure of the election system and the formation of the government that David Ben-Gurion created in 1948 … the Ben-Gurion system stopped working, and one can only wonder why her final death occurred in April 2019, and not earlier.” – says the historian.

– Stalemate situation –

Recent polls conducted on the eve of the vote, which will take place as early as Tuesday, September 17, showed that the gap between the main contenders for the victory – the ruling Likud party and the Kachol-Lavan bloc – is minimal, and not one political force their victory is not able to form a majority coalition.

Thus, according to a survey of the Panels politics institute conducted on September 12 by order of the Knesset television channel, the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form a coalition of 60 deputies of the right-wing religious camp, while only a leader who controls at least 61 mandates of 120 can head the government and form an office local Knesset.

The survey was conducted on Thursday, 539 respondents over 18 took part, the error does not exceed 4.4%.

A survey of the Kantar Institute commissioned by Kan 11 showed that the block of right-wing and religious parties is gaining 59 seats today, their opponents from the Kachol-Lavan block will at best be able to form a coalition of 54 deputies.

A similar stalemate in April this spring forced Netanyahu, according to Anna Raiva, a political observer for the Maariv newspaper, to run for the first time in history: “Netanyahu didn’t want to lose so much that as soon as he realized that he didn’t have a coalition, he did everything to form a majority for the dissolution of the Knesset.”

Anna Raiva believes that the repetition of the April situation will hit Israel’s economy and political system severely: “Nobody wants this, the political system and budget, which has a huge deficit, will not be able to sustain it. Elections mean an absolute halt to the activities of the executive branch, which operates in a temporary transition “The budgets of the ministries are in a frozen state. This is stagnation, which spans the country for several months.”

– Ben Gurion Heritage Wreckage –

The author of books on the modern political history of Israel, Shternshis, says that the political institutions of Israel worked effectively for about three decades, while the winning party traditionally gained a significant majority (more than 40 mandates), overtaking its closest competitors by one and a half to two times. This made it possible to form a compact, stable government, where representatives of the winning party received 7–9 portfolios, and 5–6 went to coalition partners.

In 1981, the first crisis came. The Likud party won 48 seats, and their opponents from the left bloc won 47. It was much more difficult to create a coalition in such conditions, and coalition partners from small parties that passed the electoral barrier began to demand more.

Since 1996, which the historian considers the date of the second political crisis in Israel, for the first time in the history of Israeli elections, the winner has received less than 40 mandates.

“After the first and especially after the second crisis of the Ben-Gurion system, an increase in the number of ministerial portfolios began to be used as crutches. In 1986 there were already 20 ministers and 7 ministers without a portfolio – 27 ministers plus a prime minister! After the 2001 election, there were already 23 in the government a minister and 8 ministers without a portfolio – 31 ministers plus a prime minister! But this was only a temporarily successful measure, as criticism of the bloated bureaucratic apparatus began,” Shternshis says.

But in the spring of this year, even the promised generous distribution of ministerial portfolios and the expansion of the cabinet did not allow Netanyahu to form a stable coalition.

– The battle for the majority –

According to sociologist and political scientist Zeev Hanin, this time Netanyahu’s efforts may lead to the creation of a right-religious government of the majority, but it will not be sustainable.

The scientist believes that such a coalition will work no more than one and a half to two years, but does not consider what is happening as a global failure of the political system.

“We are not dealing with a system failure, we are dealing with some internal corrections. It is just that the system corrects itself from the inside,” he said.

In September, Netanyahu, who has no obvious electoral advantage, will have to fight for every additional mandate in the coalition if he wins. Non-conventional political means may be used, says Maariv columnist Anna Raiva.

“Then Netanyahu will make every effort, and such attempts are already being made to split Kahol-Lavan and offer Beni Ganz or the post of Minister of Defense or even rotation (as Prime Minister) … And there is another option that Netanyahu tried to hold, but “I couldn’t. Try to break off individual people from NDI, from Kachol-Lavan,” the journalist said.

The only option for a stable coalition majority, in which the government could work out the full term allotted to it by law, Khanin considers the union of the two main leaders of the election race within the government of national unity.

“I’m not saying that this option is the most likely. But it is the most stable. And it will have a chance to last all four years. What we call a broad coalition from the left center to the right center without ultra-religious and Arab parties, and, possibly, without “Merets” (the left secular party) – it would be stable and existed for a full term, “Khanin summarizes.

However, today neither the Likud leader Netanyahu nor the co-chairmen of the Kahol-Lavan bloc are even considering the possibility of unification within one cabinet. And the historian Shternshis considers any attempts to form a stable coalition by political technological means doomed to failure in advance.

“Most likely, it will be possible to extend the clinical death of the system for another two years, no more. Two options are possible further: or suddenly a new strong political force appears, or all the same, in these two years it will come to understand that the time has come to completely redo the entire voting system and forming a government in Israel instead of looking for new crutches or trying to put on new clothes on the old skeleton,” Shternshis predicts.

In this situation, when it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the winner to form any viable coalition and when for the sake of this coalition it is necessary to hand out key ministerial portfolios even to leaders of small parties, the elections scheduled for September 17 will be the last test of strength for the Israeli political system that began to fail in that form in which she lasted 70 years.

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