Make it simple

By OPHIR FALK
September 14, 2019 19:19
3 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to do all he can to build a coalition in a press conferen

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to do all he can to build a coalition in a press conference Monday 27.05.2019. (photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON / FLASH 90)

Despite a decade of unprecedented achievements and a large majority of voters who view Benjamin Netanyahu as the most fitting candidate to be prime minister in Israel, his reelection on September 17 is not a foregone conclusion.

Those who disagree with this observation should look to Winston Churchill. The British Prime Minister, who was most instrumental in saving the world and his people from Nazi Germany, and who is regarded by many to be the greatest leader of the 20th century, lost the general elections to an unheralded Clement Attlee less than two months after VE Day.

Key reasons leading to that stunning electoral loss are detailed in The Churchill Factor, a biography written a few years ago by current British PM, Boris Johnson. The former London mayor argues that the public admired Churchill but thought a left-wing party could better serve the war-torn country in its reconstruction years, as many were concerned that the Conservatives lacked proper planning for the day after. Johnson, however, overlooked the most obvious cause for defeat: the British voting system, a system in which voters elect parties rather than vote directly for the leader of their choice. Had there been a direct vote in which all British voters who wanted Churchill to be prime minister could have voted for him, the iconic Churchill would have undoubtedly won.

Israel has a similar voting system.

Democratic elections are designed to reflect the preference of the people. The results, however, do not always coincide with the design. The system in Israel and the UK is far from perfect in that respect. Nor is it ideal in the American Electoral College-based system, or anywhere else for that matter. Democracy is the best system we have, or as Churchill cleverly observed “Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” But the electoral system does need to be improved in order for democracy and the people to be better served.

The beauty of democracy is that every citizen of voting age has an equal right to freely cast a vote that may affect the nation’s future. Such a privilege should not be taken lightly and should entail a self-imposed obligation to vote for the leader one views as most fitting to lead. Parties and party platforms matter and are of importance, but at the end of the day, the identity of a nation’s leader is far more impactful.

Ideally, the voter should be able to elect the leader of his or her choice, and subsequently, vote for the party of preference that can complement or balance the elected leader. By doing so, the voter would receive the best of both worlds. That should be simple.

Netanyahu is not flawless. Even his most steadfast supporters find reports of occasional misconduct concerning. But despite endless efforts to defame him, most Israelis respect him, many admire him, and only a few have been convinced that their prime minister is corrupt. Not this prime minister. Had that been the case, he would have been voted out of office already.

Love him or hate him, his abilities and accomplishments are indisputable. Mitigating the horrors of Oslo, putting Tehran back in its box, jump-starting Israel’s economy, building a robust military, gaining international recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Golan Heights without a shot being fired, and as a most important byproduct – the growing acceptance of Israel as a legitimate state by significant parts of the Arab world. By doing so, a real chance for a viable and durable peace may now be closer than ever.

Many Israeli voters consider the complexities of forming a coalition government after the elections, and try to calculate their choice accordingly. Such calculations have caused chaos in the past. The system should be simplified. But lacking a better system, those who are indifferent to the identity of the nation’s leader or do not want Netanyahu to be prime minister on September 18 should vote for someone else. Those who want Netanyahu to be prime minister should vote for him by means of the Likud. Simple.

The writer is a visiting researcher at Georgetown University, a research fellow at the International Institute for Counterterrorism at IDC Herzliya, and the founder of Acumen Risk Ltd., a company that specializes in risk-management platforms.


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