Step-by-Step: Making Aliyah to Israel

Documenting the very personal process of making Aliyah (immigration to Israel) by one very atypical Israeli-American girl. Aliyah on 17, August, 2005. Roadmap: What do you mean there's no roadmap?! Hang on, we're in for a bumpy ride! Ole!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Israeli elections

Here's an area that Israel really does right. What do I mean by this? Well for one thing, most people have election day off from work to facilitate voting. I remember in the U.S. talking to a lot of people who went to vote, stood patiently in line, but before they could cast their ballot they had to leave because they had to get to work on time, their lunch hour was over, and so forth.

With many people having long commutes to and from work, the polling hours of 7-7 in some places in the U.S. and 7-6 in others meant that pre, lunch, and post work were out because they couldn't reach their polling station and still get their work day in. Here, in addition to the vast majority of people having the day off, polling stations are open from 7 a.m until 10 p.m. so that everyone gets ample opportunity to get to their voting station.

Another nice thing (and many might well disagree but I find it very refreshing) is that we have more than a two-party system. Oh the U.S. has more than 2 but everyone knows that if you are voting one of the minor parties you are basically making a protest vote and it counts for nothing or, worse, you are actively hurting the "best of the worst." Who will ever forget Ralph Nader (inexorably tied to hanging chads) and the quite literally handful of votes separating Bush and Gore. Nader probably did more to kill the prospect of a viable 3rd plus party than anything could have. Here we have lots of parties. I mean lots. Tons. And the interesting thing is, that except for the really tiny parties, you aren't throwing your vote away if you vote for one of the none top 2. Because we have a parliamentary system, all the parties get representation and the number of reps for your party depends on how many folks voted for your party.

Generally you end up with a "big boy" who gets the highest representation but it is also generally not enough to give that party a true "mandate" and thus alliances must be made with some of the other parties. This is where your vote for the littler guys can count: so ok, say the big guys make a coalition with your particular littler guy party then any legislation has to at least have some compromises with the standards and requirements called for by your littler guy. There is some influence, some say in the matters at hand. If your little guy party doesn't end up the coalition partner with the big guy, it also isn't a thrown away vote because your little guy coalitions with all the other little guys in opposition and thus the bigger guys have to at least throw you a bone every now and then. (Although, if you are like the Pensioner's Party here, the number of reps you are going to get is most likely so tiny (1? 2?) that you will in essence be throwing your vote away --go for those parties likely to get at least 6ish reps!)

Myself, I'm torn (yeah even at like 4:20 a.m. on the day that I will be voting) between Kadima, Labour, and even a bit by Meretz. I won't vote Meretz though because I don't feel like they are in touch with the reality as it stands today. This is not the reality we had say 4-5 months ago when Meretz would (maybe, possibly)have seemed more of an option to me. Hamas getting elected next door pretty much removed my leaning toward Meretz as they are continuing along as though nothing had occurred next door at all. Getting past all the rhetoric, Labour and Kadima are really on a very close parallel track, on many issues almost indistinguishable. The differences are subtle. That is what is great about our system, you can go for the ok I agree with this but with some subtle changes in emphasis and have those subtleties noted and have an impact down the road when legislation gets made (yeah that does tend to happen after you elect someone/party --and you are usually not to happy with the legislation that does come about --wait, I didn't vote for you to support this?!).

In sum, I really like our system here. It is more democratic than in the U.S. practically speaking. But, I still don't know who I'm going to vote for.


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