A Premier With 20-something Seats Does Not Represent the People's Will

It will be obscene if, the day after the election, Herzog – heading a slate of 20-something MKs – declares that the people have spoken. And it will be truly obscene if Netanyahu claims that the people want him to continue governing.

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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Isaac Herzog at the Israel Conference on Democracy, February 17, 2015.
Isaac Herzog at the Israel Conference on Democracy, February 17, 2015.Credit: Moti Milrod
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

Twenty-something Knesset seats are not a mandate to govern. They are not a mandate to set a path, to lead, to institute policy in any area. It is not a mandate to create a national vision.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Feb. 16, 2015.Credit: Reuters

The person who heads the party that receives 20-something Knesset seats should not look in the mirror and say he has earned the confidence of most of the public. He must look into the mirror and say that most of the public did not vote for him. Twenty-something seats out of 120 is simply not enough. Ridiculous, even. From a moral point of view, it’s pathetic. A prime minister who heads a faction with 20-something Knesset members has actually been ousted before even being appointed.

So who will be prime minister after the March 17 election? Technically speaking, someone will have to be prime minister. According to the present polls, it will be someone with 20-something seats. Some say the vote is bloc-related, that one should count all the Knesset members in a given bloc, which attests to the extent of public support for their prime ministerial candidate.

Really? Does every vote come with a notarized declaration attached, which says what the voter’s tactical considerations were?

And what is a bloc? Is it a legal entity? A bloc is an ad-hoc alliance that politicians create depending on their interests, not something for which voters cast their vote. MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) were once a bloc, too.

By what method may we determine who members of a bloc support for prime minister? The voters of United Torah Judaism and Shas did not allude in their vote to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as premier. The voters of Habayit Hayehudi prefer Bennett for prime minister. Voters for Moshe Kahlon voted only for Kahlon. That is, not for Netanyahu and not for the Zionist Union slate. Lapid’s voters want Lapid.

The person who cracks the identity of the mysterious metaphysical entity known as “the voter’s will” is the president. By reading the grounds of the coffee he just drank, President Reuven Rivlin could decide, the morning after the election, that the voter wants a national unity government.

Really? Which voter wants that? Who voted specifically for a platform unequivocally declaring that national unity is the need of the hour? There is no such voter. There is a voter who voted for extreme right-wing Yahad slate member Baruch Marzel. There is a voter who voted for Joint List candidate Ahmad Tibi. How many of Kahlon’s voters, or Lapid’s, or Zionist Union’s, said, “Anybody but Bibi?” Yet all of a sudden it turns out they are longing for a national unity government? How does someone vote for a national unity government?

It will be truly morally obscene if, the day after the election, Isaac Herzog – heading a slate of 20-something Knesset members – stands up and declares that the people have spoken, the people want change, the people want a new path, the people want him and Zionist Union coleader Tzipi Livni.

Ridiculous. At that moment, the majority of the people will have expressed their sweeping lack of confidence at the ballot box. He did not receive a mandate to do anything but be an MK.

And it will be truly obscene if, the day after the election, Netanyahu stands up and declares that the people want him to continue governing. Twenty-something MKs on the roster of an incumbent prime minister? If that is not a humiliating letter of dismissal that tosses him out unceremoniously, I don’t know what is.

Someone will become prime minister. If I were him, I would be ashamed.

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