Monday, October 27, 2008

And we thought India had it bad...

Many in India feel we have too many political parties. Well, after hearing the news of the collapse of another government in Israel due to failure in forming a coalition, I decided to find out a little bit about Israeli politics.

Like India, Israel has a Parliament (the Knesset, pictured above) which consists of 120 members in a single house. The leader of the largest party, or the leading party of the largest coalition, becomes the Prime Minister and allots cabinet posts to her co-workers. There is also a President, who acts as a ceremonial head of state, although real powers lie with the PM and the deputy PM.

Now, getting to the parties. Until recently, the ruling coalition was led by a party called Kadima (Hebrew for forward). The party controlled 29 seats, about 24%. With its allies, it had more than 50%. But there are many other parties in the Knesset. The Labour Party, the Jewish National Front and the Greens are well known. There is also United Torah Judaism, which uses religion as its poll plank. Finally, the other major parties include Kadima, Likud and Meretz.

Of the above, the Labour Party controls (or controlled) 19 seats, Likud had 12 and Hadash had just 3. With such a fragmented spectrum of parties, it's no wonder that coalitions have become the order of the day in Israel.

There are a number of smaller parties, many of which failed to secure a single seat last time. So my friends, next time you decry the coalition politics in India and wonder if other countries also face this 'menace,' just look at our Israeli friends and know that we are suffering together.

PS: In case you haven't guessed already, I love Israel and want to visit it in the future.

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