Democracy & the Middle East

In my last post I went over the vote count. In that analysis, Kadima had a 61-seat majority among its solid allies: Labor, Meretz and the Pensioners’ Party. That majority, with the decision today to move one seat from Labor to Ram-Ta’al, one of the Arab parties, reinforces my comments regarding the demographic shift. It also shows just how truly democratic the Israeli democratic process functions.

The problem was with ballots that had been tallied but entered for the wrong party. Even with the fate of Kadima’s plan in possible balance, the reassignment of a critical seat went without much of any comment. True, the 20th Labor Party seat went from one Arab MK to another, but it’s the party that lost 5% of its power, and Kadima must now face the more serious choice of how to create and maintain a government with only a 50% share of assumed support in parliment.

Of course, full disclosure is necessary here. The party list system is seriously flawed. Lists are a function of what each party believes is important: don’t look to find the voting demographic, or women, given any kind of fair representation.

[A technical primer: The Israeli Knesset has one hundred twenty seats, doled out proportionally to parties according to their percentage wins at the election poles (which are for parties, not people). Parties create their parlimentary seating lists (usually) before the elections, and the list is used to seat members of parliment in the order of their seating priority. Parties that get less than a certain percentage of the vote get no seats (the votes are lost). Parties may agree to ‘pool’ votes, so that there are no seats lost when both parties have extra votes insufficient to deserve an additional seat in parliment. See here and here for more information.]

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