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View Diary: Israel's "Super-Stinker Deal" proves that its Political System has become a Complete Farce (45 comments)

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  •  Fascinating. Same problem in South Africa (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poco, Assaf, Terra Mystica, Brecht

    Surprising fact: To a certain extent, South Africa based its post apartheid constitution on the constitution of Israel.  It also used several other constitutions.  

    The problems that plague Israel now also plague South Africa.

    The basic reason is this: South Africa's outgoing white government party demanded proportional representation as a condition for majority rule.

    Many progressives actually like proportional representation because it means that small parties get a chance to sit in the legislature.  By contrast, in the US a party has to poll at least a majority in some district, usually at least 50%, to get a seat.  

    In proportional representation if a party, like the US Greens, poll 2%, they get 2% of the seats, even if they don't win any district.

    The flip side to this "democratic" reform is that when voters go to the polls, they vote for parties, not individual legislators.  The parties then allocate seats to individuals according to they vote they receive.  So in my Green example, it's the Green party that gets to decide who represents their 2% in Congress.

    Moreover, if a member votes against his party, the party can simply fire him/her and substitute someone else -- unless the member is "hired" by a different party.

    This means that party bosses are omnipotent in proportional representation systems.

    This is why the African National Congress went from a liberation organization to a sclerotic boss dominated party, why the pro apartheid National Party actually merged with its ANC enemy and why in Israel all these dirty deals get done.

    Proportional representation has certain advantages on paper, but is often horrible in execution.

    •  Israel has *no* constitution. So how could SA... (6+ / 0-)

      ...have possibly based its constitution on Israel's?

      There might be a commonality in many laws, b/c both are probably descendants of British colonial law. But that would be it.

      •  Regarding proportional vs. winner-take-all... (1+ / 0-)
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        it is really off-topic here.

        I think that the argument that  all this rampant, escalating, systemic corruption in Israeli politics is only due to this or that election system - simply doesn't hold water.

        That doesn't stop all the mainstream pundits and cheap politicians from making it every other day.

        And btw, I actually marched and organized for electoral and government reform back in the early 1990's. So I know the issue.

      •  "Constitution" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Assaf, volleyboy1, Justanothernyer

        In political science, a constitution is the body of fundamental principles and precedents according to which a state is governed. It need not be written (the best known example of an unwritten constitution being the UK). Therefore, Israel's electoral system is accurately described as part of its unwritten constitution. I realize this is OT so won't belabor it. Your diary was interesting and instructive.

        •  But I should have mentioned (0+ / 0-)

          that electoral systems do have an impact: winner-take-all, run-offs, proportional representation, single- or multi-member constituencies, the new California primary system - these all have an impact on the formation of parties, how parties compete or cooperate, who runs and who actually gets elected. In France, for example, the electoral system was constantly tinkered with for partisan advantage. However, if a country's politicians are inherently corrupt, they will probably be corrupt under any electoral system.

      •  I read the South African technical committee (0+ / 0-)

        minutes and reports and the drafters of the South African constitution studied the Israeli system very closely.  

        In this context, "constitution" means the laws that "constitute" the rules of the political system -- ie that set up the legislative process.

        And the South Africans concluded that all proportional representation systems have to include a provision that allows party lists and the ability of party bosses to dismiss members.

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