Israel Is Not Alone With Parliamentary Upheaval


In late June, Israel’s parliament voted to dissolve itself, triggering the country’s fifth election in just three years. This forced Yair Lapid into the role of interim prime minister as yet another legislative election is scheduled for November 1. Polls indicate an uphill battle for Lapid as he is set to face off with the veteran former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Just over a year ago, Lapid was the architect of a coalition government consisting of eight different parties which joined forces to end the 12-year reign of Netanyahu, who was Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

For those not familiar with the parliamentary system of democracy, it differs from the American system. A parliamentary nation is led by a prime minister, who is the elected head of the legislative branch, instead of a separately elected executive like our president. This system was created primarily by nations with monarchies, such as Great Britain, Norway, or Spain, or who were formerly controlled by them. And while America has a two-party system, there are a myriad of parties in a parliamentary system, so deals have to be carefully crafted between multiple groups with differing policies.

Thus, it would be like a coalition of congressional members electing a speaker, and that person running the nation as opposed to having the checks and balances of a separate executive branch.

The majority of European nations are parliamentary democracies. Yet, thanks to political infighting, some of the world’s most stable parliamentary democracies have recently had their entire governments upended. Amid growing threats from the axis of China, Russia, and Iran, this instability projects a frightening level of western weakness to our enemies on the world stage.

Great Britain, France, and Italy

Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned as Conservative Party leader — and thus, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – after an internal revolt. Now his party must choose his successor.

Just across the channel, France is having to relearn parliamentary democracy, and initial signs indicate that as a nation averse to compromise, it isn’t enjoying the experience. For the first time in a long time, French President Macron is ruling without a legislative majority in the National Assembly his favor. In June, his party suffered losses in their legislative elections.

For six decades, the French parliament served largely as an echo chamber for each party’s lofty policy goals. As the various opposition parties had little influence, these legislators were treated as “yes men” who created laws for the ruling party to implement. That changed after PM Macron failed to build a German-style coalition based on a negotiated policy program, giving opposition groups scope to propose amendments and negotiate article-by-article on each bill. This instability is felt across France’s eastern border as well.

In February, Italian PM Mario Draghi tried to run for President to shield his rule from feuding coalitions in parliament, and was not successful. Since the presidential vote, Draghi pushed back on calls by various political parties to expand the gaping Italian budget deficit, in order to address spiraling energy prices. Draghi, the former European Central Bank (ECB) president, is determined to re-establish his authority and pull his fractious coalition into line at a time when the ECB is shifting toward tightening monetary policy, pushing up the cost of borrowing for the Italian state.

Pakistan and Tunisia

This shaking of the world’s most popular system of democracy also has major implications on global security.

Following the United States’ botched withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, neighboring Pakistan’s parliament held a no-confidence vote in 2022 against its then-Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). A popular former cricket star, Khan continues to speak out against his country’s military leadership for its alleged role in orchestrating the no-confidence vote.

Now under questionable military rule and fraying economic ties with its neighbors, Pakistan — arguably the world’s most unstable nuclear power – now shares a border with a hardline Taliban government. Undeterred, Khan continues his plea for elections for 20 seats in the Punjab provincial assembly.

Meanwhile, in the terrorist hot-bed of North Africa, formerly French-controlled Tunisia may be ending their parliamentary system all together. Tunisian President Kais Saied delivered his draft for a new constitution to the public in February to decide the fate of the only democracy emerging from the 2014 Arab Spring.

Tunisia’s political crisis started on July 25, 2021, when a poor response to the coronavirus, collapsing healthcare, and economic decline produced rampant protests. 

According to France24.com, the Tunisian president began with sweeping moves, “ invoked emergency powers under Article 80 of the Constitution to remove the prime minister, suspend parliament for a month, revoke parliamentary immunity, and do away with most of the constitution itself.”

Democracy in The Middle East

This brings us back to Israel, arguably America’s biggest intelligence ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East. In recent months legacy Western media outlets have tried to paint the Israeli government as an apartheid state. While it’s clear that Israel’s democracy is under attack, it is certainly not an apartheid state. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East with both a Jewish and an outgoing coalition which includes an Arab party.

Regardless, Israelis are going back to the polls in November for the fifth time in three and a half years because, under its broken parliamentary system, the populous leader of the country was unable to form a coalition of numerous parties to run the government. This is because in previous elections, the Benjamin Netanyahu-led Likud party received the most votes from the public, but was boycotted by smaller parties in parliament, resulting in political deadlock.

After a year of disagreements, and while COVID was locking down world economies, Netanyahu formed a coalition government with Benny Gantz in May of 2020. Netanyahu’s Likud Party won with 36 seats and Gantz brought another 15.

But the political peace was short lived. Israel held another round of elections in March of 2021.

So in the context of recent arguments over America’s Electoral College, imagine how Israelis feel. In recent elections, the Likud party won 30 seats, almost twice as many as the current prime minister’s left-wing party, who received 17 seats. Nonetheless, Lapid formed a coalition with former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who resigned as PM just weeks ago, and whose party received only seven seats and appointed the current prime minister of Israel. This resulted in the election of a prime minister with under 5% popularity and the ouster of Netanyahu, which seems to have been the overriding and perhaps only objective of the outgoing government.

In 2009, when Netanyahu’s Likud party received 27 seats and created a coalition with the Kadima party’s 28 seats, a movement reportedly funded by left wing American and European interests began to undermine Netanyahu’s populist reign. One of the major reasons for the endless rounds of elections over the past three years is what many perceive to be a politically motivated legal witch hunt against Netanyahu, which included an indictment against him filed on the eve of elections. The allegations, revised four times, remain in court.

Now, amid rising Iranian aggression and Palestinian terror attacks; recent polls show that voters want Netanyahu to return to office alongside a strong majority in parliament in upcoming elections. This is why it is imperative that Israel repair its parliamentary system by enacting a system similar to that more closely resembles the American system, where Israelis get to elect the leader of their choice in two-to-four year terms. This way, similar to our midterm congressional elections that offset our Presidential elections, Israelis may vote for representatives who can complement or balance the power of the elected prime minister, solidifying Israeli democracy in a time of great regional instability.

A. Benjamin Mannes, MA, CPP served in both municipal and federal law enforcement, leading to his designation as a nationally recognized subject matter expert in security, public integrity, and criminal justice reform. He has served as a consultant and expert witness and as the Director, Office of Investigations for the American Board of Internal Medicine from 2008-2017.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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