Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Primary Obscenity

I have just finished watching the Labour primaries on TV. For those who don't know, primaries in Israel are elections to decide who gets what seat on a particular party list. Having just watched the spectacle that was the Labour primaries can only make one sick to one's stomach and is a good example of where the Israeli political system is failing its electorate.

I am not even going to bore you with the details of the wheeling and dealing that goes on before the primaries, that is politicking and is part of many systems worldwide no matter how shameful it appears. What sickened me was the fuss and fanfare associated with the event. It was more akin to the Oscars than a political event. As each member of the list was read out he or she made their way to the platform to be greeted by their new leader, Amir Peretz, with a big hug and a kiss. The new candidate would walk down the line of all those who came before them and proceed to hug and kiss them, enemies and friends alike.

This was all done while a WWF-like emcee would read out the names to a background of music, glitz and glare. What disturbed me the most was not the show but what it represents. A democracy is about having members of the legislature as representatives of the people. These people were cheering their own celebrity not considering in a sombre and befitting mood what challenges lay ahead of them while potentially serving the people.

The member of Knesset is supposed to be 'a champion of the people' not a champion of their own personality. The primary system has many detractors in Israel and I am not even going to speak of the advantages and disadvantages of the system. What appalled me and should appall every citizen is the image that the politicians matter and not the policies or ideals for which they pupport to stand for. But should I be amazed when the political landscape in Israel shifts with the movements of the sand and such a thing as ideology and principle is an outdated concept.

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