21 October 2019   Leave a comment

It has been 3 decades since most of the communist countries in East and Central Europe underwent a dramatic change in their systems. Many of those states have embraced liberal values and institutions and most sought membership in pre-communist institutions such as NATO and the European Union. The Pew Research Center conducted a poll in those states to see how the citizenry now regards those changes. In most cases, it appears as if citizens believe that the change was beneficial. The Center found that:

“Thirty years ago, a wave of optimism swept across Europe as walls and regimes fell, and long-oppressed publics embraced open societies, open markets and a more united Europe. Three decades later, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that few people in the former Eastern Bloc regret the monumental changes of 1989-1991. Yet, neither are they entirely content with their current political or economic circumstances. Indeed, like their Western European counterparts, substantial shares of Central and Eastern European citizens worry about the future on issues like inequality and the functioning of their political systems.”

Perhaps the most pervasive reservation the European publics have in the transition is the sense that elected officials are not really responsive to the interests of the broader public. In many respects, that belief underlies the growth of the nationalist/populist regimes in some states.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has failed to create a governing coalition in the Knesset so his opponent in the most recent election, Benny Gantz, now has the opportunity to create a governing coalition. National Public Radio reports:

“Netanyahu had been given 28 days to secure the 61 seats necessary to achieve a functioning majority by building support from other, smaller parties in the 120-member Knesset. After the most recent election — the country’s second inconclusive vote in less than six months — Likud won 32 seats, but the scandal-plagued prime minister could not make up the gap necessary to obtain a majority and secure his fifth straight term in office.

“Now, on Netanyahu’s 70th birthday, Rivlin has turned to the prime minister’s principal rival, Benny Gantz, a former army chief of staff and leader of the centrist Blue and White party. In a tweet Monday, Gantz responded to the new mandate quite simply: ‘It is time for blue and white.'”

Gantz now has 28 days to form a government. The Jerusalem Post gives a nice timeline of what Gantz will have to do and what happend if he cannot organize a coalition. The Israeli political system is incredibly complex, but it is also fairly robust. The current situation, however, is highly unusual.

Posted October 21, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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