Monday, February 25, 2008

A Kinder Gentler Soviet Style Election

In the bad old days, when Eastern Europe was firmly in the Soviet orbit, there would occasionally be elections, in which the Supreme Leader ran unopposed, with the words "yes" and "no" printed beneath the circles under his name.
The last time Enver Hoxha faced his electorate in Albania, he won something like 99.996 % of the vote. It can be safely assumed that the entire population of "no" voters in Communist Albania fit comfortably on the bus that had been chartered for them the day before the vote.
The problem with this approach is that it lacks credibility among citizens of western democracies, who look with suspicion at lopsided pluralities.
How does one fix an election with the sophisticated veneer of Chicago or New York and the secured results that could only be had in Pyongyang? Look no further than Israel!! Left of center is the Labour Party and Right of Center is the Likud. Each of them is flanked to the left and the right by smaller parties that make deals for a place in a governing coalition. It sounds like an Italian or French parliamentary election, but there is a crucial difference. After the election, the two major parties decide that there needs to be "national unity". What could be wrong with that?
So Labour and Likud form a "national unity" government. Whether you are a leftist who wants a socialist Israel to give away huge chunks of its territory, or a rightist who does not want to give up an inch of land, you each got the same thing. Each of your respective party's leaders alternates in the prime minister's seat and they split the cabinet posts. America is happy. Condoleeza Rice is happy. And there are no unsightly ballots with only one name at the top. Now that's progress!!!
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

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