The strength of democracy -opinion

Published date22 November 2022
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
Doubters and critics have thrown shade on democracy for centuries. Yet, these two elections in two different lands show that democratic institutions can endure in the face of bitter differences, fickle voters, changing election rules and vast philosophical divides about domestic culture and national interests

Benjamin Netanyahu emerged as the big winner in Israel. Since Israel has a system of proportional representation (every party that wins at least 3.5% of the vote gets four seats or more in the Knesset), its parliamentary politics are legendarily unstable. A single resignation from the ruling coalition can trigger new elections.

Generally, even the largest parties rarely command pluralities above 39%, meaning that negotiation with smaller parties is always ongoing.

This time, Netanyahu had to reach beyond his usual allies among the religious right to tiny parties that had more extreme ideas. One of those parties, led by ultranationalist Itamar Ben-Gvir, is known for its controversial policy positions.

Still, Israeli democracy hummed right along. Its institutions endured and continue.

While the presumed new Israeli prime minister is committed to strengthening the Abraham Accords, which has made peace between Israel and four Arab lands, everything will depend on his ability to work with his new coalition partners. If Netanyahu can pull it off, peace and freer trade could bloom across the Middle East.

In the United States, the elections to decide control of two houses of Congress did not go as the experts predicted. The Republican red wave only appeared in New York, Florida, Texas and California, where Republicans flipped a number of seats in the US House.

Americans trusted their democratic institutions to faithfully count their votes

Elsewhere, the Democrats won control of Michigan's governorship and both houses of the legislature for the first time in 40 years. Key Democrats held on to win by slim majorities in Nevada, Arizona and Georgia, where a runoff is slated for December. It is one of the smallest midterm losses by the president's party in generations and a result no one predicted.

STILL, WHAT did not happen is the most instructive. There were no armed reprisals, no mass strikes or sit-ins and no threats of secession.

Indeed, at this stage, there have not even been any lawsuits announced, although Arizona candidate Kari Lake said that she will not concede and is speaking to her legal team about election results. Even razor-thin losses in Nevada...

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