Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Election Conundrum

Israel will once again go to the polls next Tuesday in National Elections. I am finding my Facebook feed filled with friends trying to decide how to choose from the 26 party lists that are running this time around. This is my 3rd National Election since moving here and the first time I find myself in the same boat as my friends.

I have always taken politics very seriously from enjoying political satire as a kid to taking Political Science courses as my electives in University. In first year University I wrote a paper on the importance election spending limits and ended up writing a paper on how they favour the incumbent. I proctored in the last Ontario election before I made Aliyah and signed the nomination papers of someone who went on to become an MP. I used to read sections transcripts from question period, so that I could have a better understanding of some of the stories in the news. In the last couple of years, that intense focus on politics has fallen to the wayside and I am not as informed as I feel I should be on many of the important issues. This choosing how to cast my ballot even more difficult.

Standard political theory is that most people have political leanings somewhere towards the centre. Political parties try to focus their elections on appealing to the 'mushy middle' where the largest voter base is located. This makes the differences in political party platforms to be on relatively minor issues leading to stable Government policy.  Most voters don't see a huge difference in their everydays lives which is the reason why I personally believe there is so much voter apathy in Western Democratic Countries.

Under the broken Israeli system the focus is on sectorial parties that only cater to a very limited demographic. This leads to short sighted government policy designed to benefit individualized groups instead of what is best for the country. It is no wonder that the Government will pass laws to target an individual person.

The Conundrum:

Likud -- מחל
Bibi is an incredibly skilled politician with incredible survival instincts. He is capable of putting together a coalition to keep himself in power not matter what is needed to make it work. It is likely he will spend his time undoing the legislation that he passed in the current Government. He called an election calling for electoral reform aimed at at two party system. I think the American two party system is a terrible roll model. I also don't think he should be rewarded for calling an unneccesary election.

Zionist Union -- אמת
Tzipi Livni is the slimiest self serving politician in Israel. Her negotiating skills have proven to be a failure time and time again.  The merger of Labor and Hatnua is underscores what is wrong with the electoral system.  Splitting the Premiership gaurtenees more short sightedness in Government policy. The last time Livni took over from the Prime Minister as Party leader, she was not able to negotiate a coalition and we were forced to go to the polls.

Yisrael Beiteinu -- ל
Upon arriving in Israel I got involved in the party. A friend I trust for their political views got me involved. Through those connections, I met two other people who I have also come to trust for their political insight. Of the group of three my friend recently left the party. I assume it was for personal reasons. Another took a job where alignment with a political party would be a conflict of interest. The 3rd is running on their ticket. I met Former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Danny Ayalon who I have a lot of respect for in his roll as MK. He was dumped by the party before the last election. I also met Yair Shamir before the last election who really captured the mindset of what a politician should be focusing on. He has quit the party. In my mind something may be wrong in the party which is making me second guess voting for them a 3rd time.

Bayit Yehudi -- טב
My problem with them in the past is there identification as Zionist Religous Party. To me it represented the sectorial politics that is ruining the political system. This time around they have been buidling themselves up as a mainstream party with candidates outside of core support of their party. It may have allienated some of their more loyal supporters but it has caught my attention as possible voting option.

Yesh Atid -- פה
Dov Lipman is a local hero or villain depending on religious affiliation. I have just always felt that I couldn't relate to the party. From there projection of middle class as people able to only buy 2 apartments for their 3 children and unable to travel outside the country every single year, left me feeling allienated from the party. Wouldn't creating a formal market for rental housing be more effective for young families than offering a tax break if they are able to put the money together to buy an apartment?  Yesh Atid is also responsible for the end of the country wide water floridization program. I am in favour of making the draft law equal for all citizens. Yesh Atid went hard after the Haredi communtiy and came up with 'Much Ado About Nothing' legistlation with such a long implementation period that it will probably be overturned before it even goes into effect. The details of the law could leave things status quo even if it is not over turned.

Kulanu -- כ
I don't know much about Moshe Kahlon. I am not a fan of forming new political parties just before elections, especially with the intent of landing a specific ministirial job. They do have a vote sharing agreement with Yisrael Beiteinu. 

UTJ -- ג
I can't stand the Daas Torah approach to politics. UTJ demonstrated how much they only care about their narrow demographics, crying descrimination for not being included Government.

Shas -- שס
It is always a problem for a political party when they lose a charismatic leader who essentiallly is the party. Keeping Rav Ovadia alive is not a solution. I think people will see through the anti-poverty campaign as Shas has a terrible record in this area. Unless you are one of the people who consider Aryeh Deri a hero, for the rest his background would end most politcal careers.

Meretz -- מרצ
Aside from being the opposite of everything I believe in they tried to sign a vote sharing agreement with the United Arab List.

United Arab List -- ודעם
They include Balad with MK Zoabi. 

Yachad -- קץ
I feel bad for how Eli Yishai has been treated by Shas. Kudos to him for walking out on the party to try to make it on his own. I think this is going to turn into just another Haredi Party despite the fact they are claiming to reach into the DTL community as well. I was not a fan of Yishai when he was Interior Minister.

Pirates -- ף
Who doesn't like pirates?

Greens Don't Give A Fuck -- רק
Formerly known as the Green Party. I don't think the name change is going to make a difference.
Green Leaf Party -- קנ
If you want to vote for marijuana this is the party for you. 

U'Bizchutan -- נז
I love the idea of a female haredi party of breaking through the glass ceiling of haredi politics. Wishful thinking would have this leave to a break out of some of the extremism of the haredi community.  The little I have heard of their policies are just as limited in scope as the other haredi parties.

Kulanu Chaverim Na Nach -- ףץ
If the Breslov Party gets elected they would be the happiest most enthusiastic party in the Knesset. Plus you get to vote for a putz.

The parties I don't know enough about to comment:
Social Leadership -- יז
Protecting Our Children - Stop Feeding Them Porn -- יך
Flower -- נץ
Arab List -- ע
Economy Party -- ז
Or -- ני
Selected People -- זץ
Renters with Dignity -- י
Hope for Change -- יץ
Supporters of Democracy -- זך

With 26 parties to choose from I think I am leaning towards Bayit Yehudi with the slim possibility of returning to Yisrael Beiteinu. I consider Pirates as my go to protest vote but I don't see that happening. There is still plenty of time and I am willing to consider other voting options.

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