Thursday, December 4, 2008

Two Interesting Elections

Back to politics, I guess.

The theme of this installation is "The tree of liberty is watered with the blood of constant revolution." Not bloody revolution anymore, but electoral revolution--parliaments in turmoil.

Canada: After the liberal parties finally got their act together and declared they were ready to form a coalition government and got ready to pass a vote of no confidence, PM Stephen Harper met with Governor-General Michaelle Jean, and asked for permission to shut down parliament.

This is a shockingly autocratic move--especially in light of the below 40% backing of his party. Also, it's a surprising reappearance of Canadian Colonialism; although we think of Canada as independent, this action means that for the first time in God knows how long, the representative of the Queen (Governor-General Jean) played a directly active role in the political structure of Canada.

This may be what it takes to get Canadians to throw off that last vestige of British Imperialism. But perhaps it may just wind up being paid with revenge against PM Harper and GG Jean. I don't know nearly enough about Canadian governmental structure to understand what the next step is--what happens when Parliament is shut down? Will it go to another election? If so, Harper's probably going to get a huge slap in the face. Is the Conservative Party going to back Harper on this ballsy move?

Imagine if President Bush could get permission to suspend Congress. I shudder to think what would happen.

Israel: A land I have direct experience with. The Labor Party, according to current polls, is set up to take about 10 seats in the 120 Knesset, meaning that they would officially be a fringe party (with less sway than any of the groups of extremist rabbis, for instance), meaning that with a brief interruption, Israel has returned to a basically two-party system, of centrists and right-wingers. Since Kadima is not very left at all, and Likud is pretty right wing, that means that the left has basically lost its voice in Israel.

This is bad news for the short term. Livni, who refused to buy Shas' support (a disproportionally important block of orthodox minsiters), will probably not be the next Prime Minister, and the rise of Netenyahu will almost certainly cancel out any new hopes in the region that Obama's election might bring.