Following the premature collapse of an eclectic right-wing and centre-left government, Israelis went to the polls on the 17 March, 2015. Despite what appeared to be a clear-cut right-wing victory, the thirty-fourth government of Israel was constituted 14 May, 2015, over two months after incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apparent electoral triumph. This profile examines the contours of Israel’s recent election campaign and formation of a new government, assessing the triumphs and pitfalls of Israel’s major political parties during the election period. Similarly, this profile delineates the major political issues and dominant personalities featuring throughout the campaign. Subsequently, this profile traces the often-frantic coalition negotiations that led to formation of the thirty-fourth Israeli administration. Finally, the domestic and foreign policy implications of an increased hegemony of right-wing parties in the current government are outlined. Conversely, the narrow majority of the new government suggests ideological homogeneity may come with a price of increased political instability for Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Haklai, Oded, and Liora Norwich. “Bound by Tradition: The Exclusion of Minority Ethnonational Parties from Coalition Governments—A Comparison of Israel and Canada.” Ethnopolitics (early view; online first).
Attempts to build a coalition government whose survival depends on support from ethnic minority parties have resulted in both Canada and Israel in widespread public disapproval and political turmoil. In turn, such arrangements have been deemed untenable even though otherwise powerful political elites had an interest in minority party inclusion. The comparable outcomes in these two cases are intriguing because the two parliamentary democracies differ in general characteristics that much of the scholarship claims should produce different outcomes, including the electoral system, conceptions of national identity, and regional environment. Using the most different systems method, with a similar value on the study variable but with dissimilar background conditions, we argue that inherited political traditions in both countries engendered widespread perceptions that minority party inclusion diverged from the ‘appropriate way of doing politics’ and was thus unacceptable.
The goal of this note is to re-interpret and further analyze the results of Bargsted and Kedar (2009). BK use pre-electoral survey data for the 2006 Israeli legislative elections, and argue that a non-negligible set of individuals cast their vote in order to affect government formation and policy outcomes. Strategic considerations affect the likelihood of voting for Kadima, Labour or Likud, but not smaller parties. I contend that (i) what they are capturing is indistinguishable from a bandwagon effect, and (ii) their findings rely on the particular specification of the proxy for ‘expected coalition’ they use. I carry out the same exercise as BK using an extra set of controls for expected number of seats and an alternative specification of the proxy for expected coalition. My results show two interesting patterns. First, expected seats seem to be more important in voters’ strategies than coalition considerations. Second, there seems to be a compensatory strategic behavior among voters, as opposed to BK: increased likelihood of a rightist (leftist) coalition induces voters to vote less for rightist (leftist) parties. Finally, this note shows that model performance is significantly increased when using each of these two new variables, independently or together. These findings support the inclusion of such variables in all models which empirically assess strategic coalition voting behavior.
Navot, Suzie. The Constitution of Israel: A Contextual Analysis. Oxford: Hart, 2014.
This book presents the main features of the Israeli constitutional system and a topical discussion of Israel’s basic laws. It focuses on constitutional history and the peculiar decision to frame a constitution ‘by stages’. Following its British heritage and the lack of a formal constitution, Israel’s democracy grew for more than four decades on the principle of parliamentary supremacy. Introducing a constitutional model and the concept of judicial review of laws, the ‘constitutional revolution’ of the 1990s started a new era in Israel’s constitutional history. The book’s main themes include: constitutional principles; the legislature and the electoral system; the executive; the protection of fundamental rights and the crucial role of the Supreme Court in Israel’s constitutional discourse. It further presents Israel’s unique aspects as a Jewish and democratic state, and its ongoing search for the right balance between human rights and national security. Finally, the book offers a critical discussion of the development of Israel’s constitution and local projects aimed at enacting a single and comprehensive text.