Climate Change: On How to Vote for 20th Knesset

Israel’s electoral system to the Knesset has a lot of problems. Whether its the distribution of key ministry’s based on popularity and political deal-making, or whether its the sheer amount of total parties looking for ‘their piece of the pie,’ the election results often disappoint purely ideological voters.

Those voters who vote based on ‘pragmatism’ are less likely to be disappointed because they’ve already accepted that their party’s entire agenda (whether they agree completely or partially) will not be enacted in full, and certainly not without mitigating inputs from other factions. Example, the “Nationality Bill” in which every party had an idea of how it should be written, and a majority couldn’t agree on one language.

In this election (as in most Israeli ones) it seems that there are two questions one must answer before casting their ballot: First, “Do I have a very strong opinion about who should be PM?” and Second, “Do I have a very strong opinion about which party’s legislators will be most effective in the upcoming Knesset?”

An honest examining of these questions (for a right-winger) should lead one to have only two choices for who to vote for: Either the largest party who — at least partially—represents their interests, or a smaller party that will join the coalition. For me, as a self-declared right-winger this leaves me with Likud on the one hand and Yisrael Beitenu on the other.

Why YB as opposed to Bayit Yehudi or Kulanu? Because I trust YBs head to do what he says and largely play nicely with center-right governments. Why not Kulanu? For me, because they are a first time party that will likely encounter heavy resistance to their agenda, and if the country sees elections again in two years the party will likely have not accomplished anything.

For left-wingers their choices are similarly clear, in my opinion. Either they can vote for the largest representative party Zionist Camp, or a smaller more ideological one, Meretz or United Arab list. Either way, for leftists, it seems that whichever party they vote for will be in the opposition.

For Populists/Centrists the choice will be one between Shas, and Yesh Atid. Both of those parties would join a Likud-led coalition because otherwise they would be completely shut out of the legislative process. Why? Simply put, because the parties that will form the coalition have ideological principles that will play more strongly than populist/centrist views on key legislation.

In summary, because of the Israeli electoral system no party is truly bound to the wishes of its voters. This means that it is basically impossible to guarantee that ones party ‘wins the election’ or even ‘does well enough to demand an important ministry.’ However, there are ways of losing the election. One can cast their vote for a party who will not cross the electoral threshold, as in years past when some six right-wing ‘seats’ were wasted on parties like “Otzmah Yehudit,” and “Am Shalem,” and “Green Leaf.”

About the Author
Nisan Hirsh is from Skokie, IL. He lives in Talpiyot. He's been fighting to Change the Climate by emitting dangerously high levels of CO2 into the blogosphere.
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