ELKAN’S VIEW 13TH May 2015

I have just lived through two general elections, in both of which I had a vote and in neither of which I voted.

As a citizen of Israel I have a vote in the elections. However I was in England on 17 March, postal voting is not easy to arrange, and I still have no idea who I would have supported. In 2013 it was Yair Lapid, but I’m not sure I would have voted for him this time.

As a citizen of the United Kingdom I have a vote for 15 years after leaving the country which I think is wrong in principle, and I choose not to exercise my right.

Both elections produced unexpected results although possibly both for the same reason.

In Israel it seems that people came into the polling booth, heard “the still small voice” and perhaps reluctantly preferred the leader they knew than the one without experience.

It ought to have been easy for Netanyahu to form a coalition instead of waiting until the last hour constitutionally possible but the outcome of the trading between factions has produced a result that is unsatisfactory. Many good up-and-coming parliamentarians have lost their seats because they were too far down the electoral list. The proportional representation system does not allow constituencies and there is no direct accountability between the citizen and his representative.

The Israeli system, with all the conflicting parties trying to grab what they can for their supporters, is disastrous. Netanyahu’s Cabinet has had to be expanded far beyond what is needed, and will cost much more than the country should be paying.

The result in the UK, although equally unexpected, has produced a government which has a degree of unity, and which is able to move forward with a sense of purpose. In my opinion and viewed from the Israeli perspective, the result is satisfactory, far better than it might have been.

Contemplating what might happen in America in November 2016 has suddenly become very interesting!