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The Influence of Participation in Democratic Processes on Religious Parties in Israel


Asher Cohen


Bar-Ilan University - Department of Political Studies

Moshe Hellinger


Bar-Ilan University - Department of Political Studies

Bernard Susser


Bar-Ilan University - Department of Political Studies

August 29, 2010


Abstract:     
The inclusion-moderation theory points to the fact that tendency toward moderation is frequent among religious parties that have some well-established moderate features. This indeed seems to be the case in Israel. The Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox parties are not marked by any significant activist and extremist ideological components that aim to transform the political order. As to the National Religious camp, in the early days it was small, operating in the shadow of the dominant, state-founding Mapai (Israel Worker’s Party), and as such it was necessarily inclined toward moderation. This state of affairs changed dramatically after the national elections of 1977, when the National Religious camp became the leading force of the right-wing opposition to any peace program that included the evacuation of settlements. Retaining, however, a significant element of moderation, the National-Religious party was committed to the notion that the state was above party politics. This moderate orientation clearly manifested itself in the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, which involved the dismantling of Jewish settlements.

Another aspect of moderation is the inner workings of democracy within the National Religious Party, which are in contra-distinction to the charismatic, non-democratic rabbinical leadership of the ultra-Orthodox parties. While the National Religious Party conducts its affairs through democratic, bureaucratic procedures, these very procedures may have weakened it in the long run. Thus, its relative openness to a democratic political culture contributed to the ‘leakage’ of many votes to the secular parties, mostly to the right-wing Likud.

One of the most important features of party politics in Israel is the effect of the participation in the national elections on the emergence of intra-party conflicts. The decision of the ultra-Orthodox Agudat Yisrael party to enter the coalition after the Likud rose to power (1977) set the stage for the party splits to two new parties the Ashkenazi Degel Hatorah party and the Sephardi Shas party. The availability of government financial support seems to have encouraged these splits.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: Israel, Religious Parties, Moderation, Radicalism

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Date posted: August 30, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Asher and Hellinger, Moshe and Susser, Bernard, The Influence of Participation in Democratic Processes on Religious Parties in Israel (August 29, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1667848 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1667848

Contact Information

Asher Cohen
Bar-Ilan University - Department of Political Studies ( email )
Ramat-Gan, 52900
Israel
Moshe Hellinger (Contact Author)
Bar-Ilan University - Department of Political Studies ( email )
Ramat-Gan, 52900
Israel
972-50-3309188 (Phone)
Bernard Susser
Bar-Ilan University - Department of Political Studies ( email )
Ramat-Gan, 52900
Israel
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