We aren’t the only ones whose politics are completely polarized. If you don’t know what I mean, check out recent developments in France and in Israel.
This week France had a round of parliamentary elections shortly after their presidential elections back in April. (France, unlike most parliamentary democracies, votes separately for a President, instead of having the head of the party that receives the most votes try to form the next government.)
You may remember that back in April Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen and was re-elected to a five year term as President. Now, earlier this week, France voted for the 577 members of the National Assembly. This time around, both the right and left made substantial gains, encroaching on Macron’s centrist party by depriving him of the 289 seats he needs for a majority. Without a majority, it will be hard for Macron to get his agenda through parliament. On the right, Le Pen’s National Rally received 89 seats, a spectacular improvement over their previous total of eight. On the left, the “Nupes coalition” —which is essentially a newly formed coalition — won 131 seats. Together, that is 220 seats, not quite as many as the 245 in Macron’s centrist alliance has, but plenty enough to stop Macron’s agenda. (There are 112 members in other minor parties that complete the 577 count.)
What is striking here, more than anything, is the large increase in strength on both the right and left side of the political spectrum. They’re not going to agree on much, except that they don’t approve of Macron’s agenda.
If you follow Israeli politics at all, you know that Israel has held election after election after election in the last few years. Four elections in the last three years, to be precise. (This next one will be the fifth.) Of course, the Israelis have their own 600 lb gorilla to deal with, in the person of Benjamin Netanyahu who — just like Donald Trump — just refuses to leave the scene. Netanyahu had been Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009 to 2021. At the same time, Netanyahu has been under indictment for various complaints of corruption, which have not yet been resolved.
He’s under indictment, my friends.
And just like Trump, he might still come back to lead their country.
This time around, current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says he will step down after several of his lawmakers withdrew their support for the ideologically-mixed coalition when Bennett could not get enough votes to extend legal protections that granted Jewish settlers in the West Bank rights that Palestinians in the territory do not have.
Back to the drawing board, I guess.
In Israel, like in France, neither the left or the right can really get traction to the point that they can actually lead a government on their own.