In elections, there are winners and there are losers. But what happens when the winner cannot actually claim victory? How can the loser manage to hold all the cards?
Both Italy and Israel are famous for getting stuck in just these sorts of Byzantine deadlocks, and coincidentally both Mediterranean democracies are swimming in it right now.
There are some signs that a government may be formed the week in Jerusalem. In Rome, not so much. Anyway, it's hard work for those involved, and not much easier for the rest of us to understand just what's going on...
Once you win, you’d think forming government is easy enough,
In both countries, voters must choose from party lists. Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, Likud came out on top in the elections in late January, but still hasn’t managed to join forces with either of the other main parties in order to rule the country.
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In Italy, Pierluigi Bersani’s center-left party came out on top, but just barely, which means he must team up with either Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5S) or, well, you know who...
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In Israel, a coalition of a majority of the 120 seats is needed to form a government: Likud only pulled in 23.3% of the votes.
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Bersani has a worse time of it because he needs a majority in both houses: the senate plus the lower chamber of Parliament. Grillo's M5S said before the election even began that they will not form a coalition and two weeks after the results, they still show no signs of budging. Grillo has made himself clear...
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Netanyahu not so much
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Opposition leaders, Naftali Bennett and Yair Iapid have said that they will form a coalition in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, but only if they’re both involved. Netanyahu failed to form a coalition in the required four weeks, so sought an extension of an extra two weeks from President Peres. This extension expires on Sunday March 17. If they can’t do so, another election will be held.
The same could happen in Italy, though Italian President Giorgio Napolitano could potentially appoint another non-political technocrat government. We thought it was Game Over, Super Mario...?
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At least there is another election in the neighborhood that should produce clearer results. And though there will be just one winner at this week's conclave, we'll now have two popes!
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