TEL AVIV— “The voters”, said Binyamin Netanyahu in his strange victory speech, during Israel’s bizarre post-election night, “have spoken.” And so they have, in a multiplicity of self-contradictory voices.
Welcome to the mad world of Israeli parliamentary democracy. The world’s most multifarious political system has just crashed-landed into a dead-end.
A local joke claims that Israelis have more parties than voters. If other democracies boast Right, Center and Left, we have Jewish and Arab parties, secular and religious, peacenik and hard-line, socialist and free-market. Each group is finely divided among itself in a dynamic crisscross of creeds and interests, ideals and appetites.
What is a paradise for political scientists is a nightmare for anyone trying to rule the country in earnest. But these elections have brought Israel to the mother of all deadlocks.