We seem to be nearing the end. Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured) has conceded that he has been unable to form a new coalition government since Israel’s parliamentary election in March. The admission gives opposition parties their best chance yet to rally around a fresh candidate and unseat the right-wing Likud leader for the first time in 12 years. All this is happening just as a major corruption trial against Netanyahu kicks into gear.
What’s interesting is that Netanyahu’s failure this time around was mostly to do with discord within his own ranks: former allies who turned opponents, some even founding new political parties then refusing to partner with their one-time collaborator. That got me thinking about how this would have played out elsewhere. The US, for example, is as polarised as Israel but would such a system have broken Donald Trump’s stranglehold on the Republican Party? Might Ted Cruz or Steve Bannon, or any number of other leaders have simply formed their own political grouping? And the same goes for Democrats: would Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have more readily formed a splinter party – and would they have agreed to a coalition with Sleepy Joe if they had?
It’s an interesting theoretical exercise in power politics with no clear answer: would Trump have held onto power for longer in an Israeli-style parliamentary system or would Netanyahu have fared better in a presidential structure? It also says something about our political divisions: in each country people aligned themselves into two camps (for or against the respective leaders) – when in reality, below the surface, there were far more splinter groups on both sides. So who do you follow when your captivating leader or foil is gone? As voters we need to do a better job of sticking to our principles rather than following personalities – no matter which political system underpins our choices.