Susan Hattis Rolef 58 USE THIS.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The categorical answer to the question of whether we are in for early elections
On the face of it, there are many reasons that early elections
The popularity of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is
lower than ever – recently less than 33 percent of the population expressed
satisfaction with him, compared to over 50% in December 2010.
protest movement, even though it does not include large sections of the
population that have good reason to be dissatisfied, indicates that there is a
desire for major changes in the government’s socioeconomic approach. The fact
that at the end of July, over 85% of the population expressed sympathy for the
protest is certainly a sign of some deep-seated dissatisfaction.
financial difficulties of the so-called tycoons indicate that while it is in
nobody’s interest to see any of them going bankrupt, there is an urgent need to
prevent clever financiers from turning into billionaires by means of leveraged
loans that enable them to construct ownership pyramids, which place excessive
power in their hands and are liable to collapse at any moment like a castle of
cards, pulling all of us down with them.
The complicated situation that
Israel faces internationally, with which the government is dealing primarily by
means of a not-so-effective hasbara (public diplomacy) effort, and contingency
plans to confront a possible outbreak of Palestinian violence in September, is
also cause for great concern within wide sections of the populationthat believe
Israel should initiate – not just react.
THE MAIN reason that, despite
all of these fateful events, we shall not have early elections is that there is
no majority in the Knesset to call for such elections.
Within the current
coalition, Netanyahu certainly does not want them with his personal popularity
so low. Eli Yishai – the political leader of Shas – has other
One of them is former MK Arye Deri, who is preparing a return
to active politics by either replacing Yishai at the head of Shas, or heading a
new political movement. Either way, Yishai will be the main victim. As for
Avigdor Lieberman, who stands to gain the most from any weakening of the Likud,
he confronts a complicated legal situation, and it is not at all clear whether
he will be able to stand at the head of Israel Beiteinu in the next general
In the opposition as well, not everyone is interested in early
elections. Though Kadima is a boisterous critic of Netanyahu and his government,
its fate in the next elections is unclear. The most recent opinion polls show
the party’s public support remaining more or less unchanged since the last
general election, but this is before one takes into account the possibility that
toward the next one, a new version of Shinui might emerge and take voters away
Labor is currently trying to get its act together and will
certainly need time to reorganize under a new leader, and it will try to
capitalize on the current protest movement.
But even if there were a
majority in the Knesset for early elections, from a national point of view this
is not desirable. The last Knesset to serve close to a full term was the 13th
(1992-96). It looks like no matter who heads the government, there is a serious
problem of governability, which is largely the result of the political
fragmentation, which in turn is the result of an extremely fragmented society,
and proportional representation. Unless the electoral system is changed, we
shall continue to live in a situation where plus ça change, plus c’est la même
chose. Frequent elections solve nothing.
EVEN THOUGH I do not support the
current coalition, I believe it should be allowed to continue struggling on.
Perhaps some issues will be addressed. Perhaps something will come, after all,
of the team led by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg. Perhaps something will come of the
committee dealing with the problem of concentration in the economy (i.e., the
Let us see what actually happens in September, and
how the Middle East will emerge from the current political turmoil.
believe that Israel should actively promote a settlement with the Palestinians,
and stop creating facts on the terrain that disturb the attainment of such a
But until the regional situation gels, little can really be
In the meantime, anyone who believes he has an alternative to
offer – let him start preparing to present this alternative to the public, not
on a wave of momentary euphoria (or alternatively, political hysteria) resulting
from impressive demonstrations, but on solid political ground. I believe an
alternative exists – but that early elections are not the way to bring it
about.The writer is a former Knesset employee.