The Implications of the Direct Elections in Israel
Turkish Yearbook of International Relations, Vol. 30, pp. 67-105, 2001
39 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2010
Date Written: March 19, 2001
Like many immature and fledgling democracies Israel has suffered from the same disease which causes instability, inefficiency, maladministration, corruption, bribery, extortion and anarchy. However, unlike other countries, Israel has invented its own medication to cure the ills of its democratic system. This unprecedented "magic remedy" provided Israel with the distinction of being the first democracy to a have direct election for its prime minister. This study is dedicated to the examination of this "untested remedy" and its side-effects. The primary aim over the course of this paper will be to denote the implications of this reform upon the various aspects of Israeli politics. However, it should be noted that considering this reform merely as a change in the electoral system would be a great mistake. The direct elections have totally altered the form of government, party system, electoral campaigns, and the voting behaviours in the Jewish State. By allowing the split-ticket voting (i.e. the separate voting for prime minister and Knesset), the new system has contributed to the further fragmentation of Israeli party system and simultaneously strengthening the ethno-sectarian and single-issue parties at the expense of larger and ideological ones. In addition, while it has modified the traditional inter and intra-party politics and traditional coalition formation procedures, it also starkly exposed the absence of checks and balances within the system.
Keywords: Israel, Israeli Politics, Knesset, Likud, Labor, Ethno-sectarianism, Electoral Systems, Direct Elections for Primer Minister, Electoral Behavior
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