Thursday, April 2, 2009

Olmert Finally Replaced as Prime Minister

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likes to portray himself as a right wing political leader. A major key in his rise to power was in his objection to the Gaza pullout. He had supported all of the legislation that made the pullout a reality until it was too late. He justified having the first crack at being Prime Minister even though he had less seats then Kadima on the premise that the right wing parties had more votes. During the election he said he would reach out to Kadima and Labour to form the government. Once given the opportunity he put in a considerable amount of effort to get them on board eventually settling with Labour in the government.

He has managed to put together and incredibly stable government. He managed to work out a compromise between religious parties Shas and UTJ with Yisrael Betaynu on begin to reform marriages laws, so that everyone who lives in Israel may eventually have the opportunity to get married in Israel. National Union is the only right wing party that was left out of the government. It seems to be as much their fault as anything Netanyahu did.

Bringing half of Labour into the government was brilliant. He has successfully divided the party as they try to figure out what direction the party should go in the future. The MKs who decided not to join the government cannot run under Labour in the next election if they vote against the party. They will be sitting out a lot of votes. For votes that require a fixed number of votes to pass, their abstention is equal value to them sitting in the government. The extra members means Yisrael Betaynu is the only party that holds the balance of power.

Netanyahu paid a heavy price to get his government. He had to give out all of the good jobs to his coalition partners to convince them to join, leaving scraps for his own party. He already has problems inside of Likud as his campaign against right wing candidates cost Likud greatly at the polls. He is now has a bloated government with 30 ministers some without portfolios and some as valuable as Minister of Twiddling Thumbs or Minister of Toilet Paper in the Knesset bathroom. Keeping everyone happy will be his biggest challenge. This is a big change from trying to keep the government alive, which is how most coalitions are built.

It is too early to tell which direction this government will end up taking. The built in stability will make it more difficult to be taken over by small minded special interest issues. Hopefully it will not be as bad as the last one.

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