Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Parties, Over

Four days before Election Day in Israel and the race seems to be tightening up (see here and many other places). But what really puzzles those observers isn’t the rise of Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu party, or the decline of Labor. It is the fact that Israel, traditionally a country of 2 major parties (Likud and Labor), and in recent years of three major parties (Likud, Labor and Kadima), is turning into a land of 4 or 5 “major” parties – Likud, Kadima, Israel Beiteinu, Labor, and maybe Shas (Shas is a little behind in the polls, but it often performs better on election day than polling reflects).

This means that an unstable political system may become even more so. This development raises the possibility that no two parties will be able to claim a clear majority, thus making a “unity” government much harder to define. On the other hand, the additional parties haven’t changed the ideological landscape all that much.

Thus the irony. On the one hand, it’s a “parliamentary” system gone wild with an unlimited menu of nuanced agendas. On the other hand, votes for particular parties have lost meaning, leaving Israel with something very similar to a presidential system. Differences between Labor, Likud and Kadima are quite slim, and choices are mostly personality-driven: a contest between Netanyahu, Livni, Barak and Lieberman. This is no longer a contest between parties, but between leaders.

And if this is a personality contest, it’s quite clear why Lieberman will be the big winner. Of course, he will not have enough votes to become the Prime Minister. But with his bluntness, aggressiveness, sarcasm, (and, yes, Russian accent)- he has the advantage of being the only candidate with, well, a distinct personality.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.