The heart goes out to British politics. The United Kingdom put on a fine political show last week, which is worthy of emulation here.
In the May 6 parliamentary election no party won a majority, which is a very familiar result in Israeli politics but rare in Britain. The Liberal Democrats became the tiebreaker, but surprisingly did not become an instrument for extortion. The coalition negotiations between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, were completed in under a week, and the first coalition government since World War II was announced to the public last week. David Cameron, the Conservative leader and the new prime minister, and Nick Clegg, head of the Liberal Democrats and the new deputy prime minister, were quick to present their cabinet and their joint platform, promising "a new kind of government" for their country.
It is too early to judge whether this young and impressive pair can keep its promise, but the start is encouraging. It is also impossible to ignore the shortcomings of the British regional voting system, in which the votes of hundreds of thousands of people are lost. Thus, for example, the Liberal Democrats received 23 percent of the vote, but only eight percent of the seats in parliament.
But at the same time it is impossible not to be impressed by the rapid and dignified manner in which the new British government was formed. Israelis, accustomed to long and exhausting coalition negotiations, some in secret and with more than a few acts of political blackmail, particularly by small parties with the power to tip the scales, can only be envious. The coalition partner received five cabinet posts but no senior portfolios, with the exception of Clegg's deputy premier appointment. As far as is known, no funding in any form was promised to them either.
The outgoing prime minister, Gordon Brown, who tried for less than a day after the election to hold parallel coalition talks, was quick to take responsibility for the defeat and to resign his posts in a noble manner. Quick and efficient negotiations, politicians who take personal responsibility for defeat - all these are unfamiliar sights in our land. Look on in wonder, look on in envy.
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