It is a virtual certainty that the next government of the UK will be some kind of coalition, formal or informal. Given that none of the main parties enjoys the support of even a third of the public, that is to be expected. Democratically speaking, it should probably be applauded as well. No majority should mean no clear mandate.
But everyone also expects the negotiations to form such a coalition to take no more than a few days at most. And that is also to be applauded, as the interregnum produces an unacceptable vacuum which is as bad for the nerves as it is for the money, stock and other markets.
So consider, if you will, the fate of a country which is one of the world’s powder kegs but where there has effectively been NO government for 27 days, and where there may not be one for another fortnight. Welcome to Israel.
It is normal for elections to culminate in voting day. But in Israel that is the start, not the end, of the process. Yes, the Prime Minister will still be Benyamin Netanyahu, who on the day of the election warned Jewish voters to hurry to the ballot boxes because “Israeli Arabs are voting in droves”. His overt racism crucially won four more seats in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) than the polls had predicted for his Likud party.
But in spite of his victory whoops, Likud is still well short of the 61 seats required for a simple majority in the 120-seat Knesset. And Israeli citizens may not know for a further two weeks whether he will be governing with small parties well to his right, with religious parties only interested in their own benefits, or even with the demoralised centre-Left – or some of its defectors.
The new coalition – like the old one – is expected to include Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), several of whose senior members were last week indicted on serious corruption charges, and Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) whose senior members routinely talk about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their lands which they claim for the Jewish State.
While negotiations surround the tricky issue of which of the minor partners get more cabinet seats (with all the associated powers, financial benefits and perks), all three have agreed to a series of controversial laws that would undermine Israel’s Supreme Court, which was, until recently, seen as the last bastion of human rights in the Jewish State. A series of bills aim to increase the government’s power in the process of choosing Supreme Court judges and president, which will be used to appoint compliant placemen with predictable results.
Israel now has a majority of political parties for whom justice does not matter very much, in addition to parties who voters never had any tome for the Supreme Court as they answer to a Higher Authority.
That Netanyahu’s overt assault on a Judiciary independent of the Executive is not a deal breaker says much about the country, its values, its politics and its future.