John  Wohlstetter

What would happen if America’s 2008 Presidential election had run under Israel’s election rules?

Hillary Clinton’s Progressive Democrat Party, composed of centrist defectors from the Democratic and Republican parties, wins 100 seats in the 435-seat lower house of Congress. But Barack Obama, winner of the Democratic Party nomination, picks up 47 seats that otherwise would have gone to Hillary.

The leading right-wing parties, composed of Republican Fred Thompson’s 96 votes, Libertarian Ron Paul’s 54 and Christian Conservative Mike Huckabee’s 34, totals 184 seats. Adding seats from John McCain’s National Service Party (19), Mitt Romney’s New Economy Party (15), Sarah Palin’s Energy Independence Party (12) and Newt Gingrich’s Win the Future Party (10), all right-wing parties total 240 seats, a clear majority.

As no single party won a solo majority, the Speaker of the House would have to decide which party’s Presidential candidate should be invited to try to form a government. Nancy Pelosi could ask Hillary to form a government, but the right-wing parties could respond by forming a “blocking coalition” of 240 votes to guarantee that Hillary’s coalition would fail. If Pelosi refused to invite Thompson to form a government, candidates would gear up for a re-run of the Presidential contest. Thus the cycle would begin again and we would still not have chosen a President.

If that kind of process seems chaotic, that’s because it is.

Today, Israel’s right-wing parties total about 55 percent of the seats in the newly chosen Knesset. That’s enough to block Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni from forming a left-wing government. Several right-wing parties split Israel’s right of center voters, who clearly are fed up with the Palestinian negotiation policy of the sitting government. Thus Livni finished first by a single seat in the party-list total.

Second-place finisher, Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu, a former Prime Minster, can try to negotiate a right-wing coalition or, as reports indicate, may seek a broader coalition including Livni’s Kadima Party, with Livni in his government.