TLR 168 – Is this leading Anywhere? The Israeli general election of March 2015

israel elections

israel elections

Coming against the background of the election campaign that has been underway since December, this issue is devoted solely to Section B: Domestic Politics. True, there is much to write about with regard to C: Macro-economics, where the data are much more positive than had seemed possible only a few months ago, as well as Section D: Corporate Affairs, where there is a great deal happening, much of it rather negative, including in the banking and energy sectors — but elections always take precedence.

That is so even when the election in question has no raison d’etre, no substance and is leading nowhere. Indeed, this extra-long issue begins by asking why there is an election happening at all and goes on to list many of the important topics that are being given little or no attention in the campaign, before concluding, by way of a bottom line, with an explanation of why this election is leading nowhere — at least in the immediate context of generating a government capable of formulating and executing policy in all the key areas of public life.

However, there is more to the political process than the formal procedure of disbanding the previous Knesset, registering parties and compiling lists of candidates for the new one, slinging mud at rivals and urging supporters to vote — and then counting the votes and figuring out how to create a new coalition and government from the results. I argue that the 2013 general election is another stage in an ongoing socio-political metamorphosis that has been underway in Israeli politics at least since 2009, when the post-financial crisis world began to change rapidly — especially in the Middle East, where no substantive change had occurred for decades.

In the case of Israel, where the Great Recession/ Financial Crisis was a transient and relatively marginal event, the process of underlying change can be traced back much further — to the traumatic period of the Second Intifada and the severe recession of 2000-2003. The central section of this issue examines why and in what ways Israel has changed fundamentally over the last 10-15 years — and why, as a result, the ideas, issues and policy prescriptions that were prominent in the 1990s are no longer resonant, or even relevant. As a consequence, the people who articulated those ideas and policies and led the parties that promoted them have also become irrelevant and are gradually being removed from the stage.

This begs the question of why this process is proving so lengthy, to which I propose a definitive answer, while the obvious follow-up question of what comes next — to which no definitive answer is available — is subjected to speculation, hopefully of the intelligent sort…

All this is designed to serve as background material for the meetings scheduled with many subscribers in London next week and to phone conversations with others.

Contents

 B: Domestic Politics

  1.  Why is there an election and what is it not about?
  2.  So what IS it about?
  3.  Where have all the crises gone?
  4.  The evisceration of 1990s politics and politicians
  5.  What now and what next?

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