Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Truth About Coalition Power in Israeli Governments

I think the time has come for me to reveal the truth about coalition power and politics in Israeli Governments.  Just too many of the comments to my recent post about the Likud are completely mistaken about how coalition politics works in Israel.

Recent Israeli Government Cabinets, Ministers With Portfolios, Without Portfolios and S'gan (Vice/Assistant) Ministers have been including a preposterous proportion of the coalition MK's (Knesset Members) and sometimes even non-parliamentary appointees.  A very small percentage of the "Cabinet" actually have political power, the type of power that can affect national policy beyond the scope of their narrow portfolios.

Add to this the restrictions, aka "coalition discipline" that the party heads and MK's must sign to join the coalition, and you end up with a bunch of well-paid lap dogs on tight leashes for the Prime Minister.  The larger the coalition the less influence it has.  Simply put- 

The government coalition protects the Prime Minister from the opposition.

The coalition ministers and MK's must toe the party coalition line or lose its perks, like ministries and the extra jobs it can offer party activists.

It is a very rare Israeli Prime Minister who is actually dependent on his coalition.  I can't remember the last time we've had that situation. 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is a very sharp guy and quick learner.  He now has complete control of his party, the Likud and his ministers and government.  His first term in office was a personal political disaster, but he learned what to do and how to fix it.  Yes, I do admire that part of him .  I just don't agree with his policies and actions on the whole!

I support and vote for the Ichud Le'umi, National Union, davka, because I don't want it in the coalition.  I don't want to vote for people who would be the kind of MK who could compromise principles.


Anonymous said...

of course a coalition is meant to shore up the prime ministers power. and in return the coalition members get stuff. welcome to parliamentary democracy.
i dont support ichud leumi for the exact reason you do. i dont want a party that stands on principle, since i want to get things done. democracy and politics is the art of compromise in order to move things in a general direction that you like. if you are not willing to compromise, you have no place in the knesset -- all you are doing is telling yourself how great you are, or are just making a statement to yourself about yourself , but will accomplish little.

goyisherebbe said...

Since I was tagged in Facebook concerning this post, I felt an obligation to comment on it. We seem to be very much damned if we do and damned if we don't. You probably feel this as well. I joined the Likud and Manhigut in order to support Feiglin. It doesn't look like it's doing much good so far. Feiglin said it would take a long time, but are we doing something worthwhile or are these more Kfar Maimon circles? Feiglin needs to do some ward heeling and political charity work with the Manhigut label on it, Shas-style. BTW, even soldiers refusing orders doesn't stop expulsions because they can always get some paid creep to do the job. Now they are even using Arabs. Party politics work the same way. Bibi gets Arabs to vote for him in the primaries by paying them off. I voted for Ihud Leumi in the general election, but 1) that gives Netanyahu and his lapdogs the right to say we aren't real Likudniks because we don't vote for them in the election. I don't know how to diselect Ehud Barak and Dan Meridor. There seems to be no way. In addition, the Ihud is frozen out of any meaningful influence in the working of government as the price of its ideological purity. Electoral reform would be nice, but that seems to be scheduled for the year after hell freezes over. And even then I'm not so sure it would help all that much. Look at Congress. Let's do our hishtadlut and also daven and hope that Am Yisrael gets its collective act together.

Batya said...

a, can you just come out and admit that the coalition MK's are yes men and don't influence the PM?
As little as NU may have accomplished it's more than others. They can vote for what is right, rather than be subject to Bibi's rules.

goyish, so Feiglin's story is getting more like swiss cheese? Let's work together

Amihai said...

one of the biggest force of the NU is the fact it's incorruptible and won't renounce to an inch of its ideology.
That's why there are not in the coalition - because Netanyahu wouldn't be able to force them.
Shass could impose itself for instance. But because they manage to receive what they want for their institutions, they don't go against bibi.
Liberman hasn't any true political skill he only know how to bark; Netanyahu got him on a leash.

But a Ihud wouldn't stop with budget or ministerial seat, they would do exactly what they think is best no matter what bibi says.
With more power in the knesset, they could become indispensable for a coalition. And Ketzeleh Eldad and the others are not people you can force to do something...

Batya said...

Amichai, imagaine the strength NU would have if the Feiglin people would vote for it. Instead, the Feiglin supporters vote for Dan Meridor!

Amihai said...

It's easy.
If you count : all the people voting for shass because they're from eidot hamizrah, for beitenou because they like how Liberman speaks, for likud because of feiglin Eitam and others, for avoda because they don't know that NU has too social ideals, for kadima for the sake of being in every major party (like MK Otniel Shneller);
you get something like at least 10 seats in the knesset from people with NU ideals but not voting NU.
Only from Feiglin vote, something like 3-4 seats.

A strong, right wing, eretz israel party, not specially religious (like the integration of the faction of Eldad) has the potential of occupying like 18 seats in the knesset.
But we are jews...

Batya said...

Amihai, many of those who vote Likud for Feiglin would have voted NU, others are NRP. Unfortunately, NRP is the perenial lapdog.
But considering the youth. I have faith in the good judgement and idealism of the Jewish People. We just need patience. G-d willing

Hadassa said...

No-one noticed that that's a poodle, not just any lap dog? Yitzhak Rabin referred to Yossi Beilin as Peres' poodle, and the expression has been used for many other politicians since then.

Batya said...

Hadassa, they also haven't noticed that ministers have no real power to make national policy.

Anonymous said...

i will not admit that coalition members are yes men.
some more some less. but they get stuff in return -- like being able to run ministries more or less as they see fit. this is how politics works.
nu does not want to play the politics game, and so they are irrelevant.

and leiberman is not with nu.
he is for moving arabs, but also for moving jews.

Batya said...

Lieberman is no more than words and Bibi-Barak team vetos much of what he says.

Did you ever see the show "Yes, Minister," that's the way it works. Most policy is just inertia. The minister can't make waves except in the bath.

Ministers who use the "n" word may find themselves sans perks. That's how Sharon did it and he's not the only one. Rock the boat and you have to jump.