How Netanyahu could lose; how Boris could be beaten; and why voting matters

There’s an election going on in Israel right now and incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely expected to retain power, but my friend Eric Lee has written an interesting column for the “Times of Israel” explaining how Netanyahu could lose. The argument rests on the supposition that Israeli Arabs – who comprise a fifth of the nation’s population and have the vote – actually use that vote in similar proportions to Jewish voters.

This column brought to mind the situation in the UK where Boris Johnson is a Prime Minister willing to take the country out of the European Union in a no-deal Brexit although there is no majority for this option in Parliament. There is currently lots of speculation about how he could be blocked and even deposed, but the easiest option would be for the seven Sinn Fein MPs elected in Northern Ireland to take their seats and vote against a Brexit which threatens the Good Friday Agreement, yet this article explains why it won’t happen..

Last Friday, I was in a very wet and windy Manchester to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre of 16 August 1819. That demonstration was a demand for the vote at a time when the suffrage was tiny and Manchester did not have a single seat in Parliament.

While I was in Manchester, I went on a two-hour guided tour of sites associated with Peterloo and an explanation of the historical context. To my astonishment and annoyance, our guide seemed deeply cynical about the capacity of representative democracy to affect meaningful change and, when I engaged him at the end of the tour, it became clear that he was an anarchist.

I have spent my life believing that voting matters and can change things – in Israel, in Britain, in the United States, wherever democracy, however flawed, is available – and I have never missed an opportunity to vote.


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