Years ago, the premier of Ontario, one Mike Harris, decided that the city of Metropolitan Toronto, which consisted of six boroughs/sub-cities, could be run more efficiently if all the city departments were merged to create one new city of just-plain Toronto.
Naturally, every minicipal politician was against this. Nothing like the thought of losing one's place at the trough to bring out the noble knight in our elected representatives. So the fight began between the provincial and municipal goverments on whether or not Toronto would be amalgamated into one megacity.
One of the tactics used by the mayors was to demand a referendum on the issue. The provincial government showed no interest in this so they went ahead themselves. In a stunning display of unity, they choose six different ways to have elections in their personal fiefdoms. The borough of Scarborough choose the most hilarious way - ballots were printed in the free town paper distributed at corner stores and malls. Citizens were encouraged to cut the ballot out, fill in their vote and mail it to the city hall. Naturally, there was a request for each person not to do this more than once!
In the end, approximately 10% of the population of the future megacity voted, and not suprisingly the vote was 90% against amalgamation. So Mike Harris looked at this and said: We will obey the will of the people and call the process off. Right?
Wrong. He looked at it and said: 90% of the people didn't vote which means they don't care if I amalgamate Toronto or not, so this is an overwhelming majority supporting my plans. And he went ahead.
I was thinking of this when I read the article today about Tzipi Livni, the new leader of Kadima, and the two possible options she has now that she's won her party's primaries. The first, as detailed in the article, is to call an election. The second is to cobble together a new government that will either rest on the Arab parties for support or require that Shas and UTJ be bribed some more.
What's a girl to do?
Ah, but for the old days. Time was politicians put something above their own personal ambitions and desires. That something was the welfare of the country and all its citizens, not just the ones they agreed with. In 1967, with the country possibly facing its final days, Levi Eshkol brought the hated Menachem Begin and his Heirut party into the government. What Israel was going through required input from representatives of all parts of the Jewish population, not just the ideologically friendly ones.
In 1974, after the distasterous Yom Kippur war ended, Golda Meir resigned as prime minister even though her role in the was had been exonerated. She was the prime minister and the debable had happened on her watch. Therefore she was responsible and would pay the political price.
One is hard pressed to find such examples in today's government. The current leader, having resigned over a month ago, continues to meet with the enemies of the state and conduct surrender negotiations with them despite his current acknowledged status as a caretaker prime minister until the new one shows up for work. In mature governments, such behaviour would never be countenanced. Olmert's job is to keep the seat warm for his successor. It is certainly not to arrange deals that will cause irreperable damage to Israel, especially as he won't be around to take responsibility for them.
In this environment of arrogance, Tzipi Livni therefore has two choices. The honourable choise is to announce that she believes that a prime minister needs to be elected, not chosen by a miniscule portion of the populace. The Knesset could then dissolve and proper elections (or whatever passes for them in Israel) could be help.
Or she chould ignored that 0.5% of the population voted for her and announce that her majority win in the Kadima primaries gives her a right to become prime minister. However, it would show incredible contempt of democracy and Israeli society to do so.
So why do I have the bad feeling that this is exactly what she'll do?