IDI's Forum for Political Reform in Israel was established by IDI President Dr. Arye Carmon in September 2009 in response to "the urgent need to generate significant improvement in the capabilities and functioning of the Knesset." Over the course of 2009-2010, the Forum met under the chairmanship of Supreme Court President (Ret.) Justice Meir Shamgar, bringing together some 100 academicians, retired judges and politicians, public figures, and businessmen to formulate practical proposals for structural reform. Headed by IDI Research Fellow Prof. Gideon Rahat, a team of 10 IDI researchers formulated a series of recommendations for political reform, which were presented to the Knesset for debate and implementation. Special emphasis was placed on strengthening the Knesset through fundamental changes to Israel's electoral system.
The call to change the governmental system had been circulating in the public discourse for quite some time. This phenomenon was strengthened by the findings of IDI's 2009 Israeli Democracy Index, which pointed to a worrying trend of erosion in the Israeli public's confidence in most of the democratic institutions and structures, and revealed the public's rejection of politics. For Israeli democracy to remain stable and healthy, the public must provide legitimacy to its elected officials and this was not happening.
Under the guidance of IDI Senior Researcher Prof. Gideon Rahat, a team of IDI researchers formulated a series of recommendations for political reform. Their work was based on a rigorous analysis of the performance of Israel's political system since the founding of the State and on a comparative study of the performance of 35 developed democracies throughout the world. The underlying principle of the work was that parliamentary democracy is the only political system that can properly represent the varied groups, beliefs, opinions and desires in Israel's multicultural society.
At each stage, the IDI research group presented its recommendations to the members of the Forum. Established by IDI in September 2009, the Forum and its committees were comprised of approximately 100 senior figures of the Israeli political and legal system, including retired Supreme Court justices, former ministers and former Knesset members, CEOs of government agencies, municipal public officials, former government secretaries, former director generals of the Prime Minister's Office, public figures, university presidents, and representatives of the business sector. These participants carefully examined the electoral and structural reforms aimed at repairing and stabilizing the systems upon which Israeli parliamentary democracy is based.
The proposals of the IDI research team and the Forum were presented to the Knesset for debate and implementation on March 28, 2011.
Chairman of the Forum:
Supreme Court President (Emer.) Justice Meir Shamgar
The IDI Research Team
Director: Prof. Gideon Rahat
Prof. Matthew S. Shugart, University of California, San Diego
Forum Meetings: 2009-2010
Presentation of Recommendations
On Monday, March 28, 2011, Former President of the Israeli Supreme Court Meir Shamgar, Chairman of IDI's Forum for Political Reform in Israel, submited the Forum's recommendations to date to Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin. For further information about this event, click here.
Members of the Forum for Political Reform
* Participated in the Forum’s deliberations but expressed reservations regarding several of its recommendations
Members of the Committee for Improving the Efficiency of the Work of the Knesset
Members of the Committee for Improving the Efficiency of the Work of the Executive Branch
In the interview below, Prof. Gideon Rahat discusses the reforms recommended in Reforming Israel's Political System, published by IDI in 2013.
IDI President Yohanan Plesner argues that electoral reform will not suffice to fix the short-term-ism that is destroying Israel's capacity for long-term planning and policy execution; reform of the internal processes of the parties themselves is required. This op-ed first appeared in the Jerusalem Report.Read More
Love him or hate him, Donald Trump’s once unthinkable ascension became a reality earlier this month, following a largely drama-free roll call vote on the Republican National Convention floor. Trump is a prime example of a candidate whose vision and ideas are not a direct reflection of his party's values and policies, and who, in many ways, battled his way to the top of the party. His nomination is just one example of a current trend toward political personalization, a process in which the influence of individual leaders in the political process has increased, as the centrality of the political group declines.
This article was first published by JNS.org.
The volatile Israeli party system, together with several recent political developments, lately brought the idea of holding open leadership primaries to Israel. However, when considering the adoption of open primaries, one must also take into account their potential challenges and dangers. This op-ed originally appeared in the Times of Israel.Read More
May 14 marked the one-year anniversary of the fourth Netanyahu government. According to IDI researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig, "it is safe to say this cabinet has broken a record for internal instability."Read More
In this op-ed, which first appeared on the Times of Israel, IDI's Ofer Kenig argues that it is time to cautiously expand the right of absentee voting to more Israelis.Read More
The start-up nation owes it success to the democratic system of government established by its founders. Israel’s liberal democracy not only unleashes the creative talents of individual Israelis, it fosters a business environment favorable for the establishment of companies with disruptive potential on a global scale. However, Israel’s continued success should not be taken for granted. Indeed, there are a number of signs that Israeli governance may be weakening.Read More
The number of women in Knesset has increased dramatically to five times what it was 25 years ago. The share of women in the Israeli Knesset is now almost 27%, making it higher than in the U.S. Senate (20%) or the House of Representatives (19.4%).Read More
On May 14, 2015, the 34th government of the State of Israel—the fourth Netanyahu cabinet—was sworn in. In this article, IDI Researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig presents an overview of the process of forming the government and the profile of its members.Read More
Dr. Ofer Kenig argues that amending the clause of the Basic Law that limits the number of ministers in the next government to 19 is not only unnecessary, but also brings about a sense of déjà-vu that the Knesset is defying the rules of the game once again.Read More
Israel's 20th Knesset will have 39 new members. Will this infusion of new blood improve the Knesset's performance? Dr. Chen Friedberg explores some of the issues that may impede the ability of these new Knesset members to "clean up" the Knesset.Read More
"Flash in the pan" parties suddenly spring up, run for Knesset with varying degrees of success, and disappear from the political map soon after. This article discusses this phenomenon in Israel in the past and in the context of the 2015 elections.Read More
The findings of the Party Democracy Index, a tool designed to evaluate the level of democracy within political parties, which was designed by IDI's political reform research team. The findings have been released in advance of the 2015 Knesset elections.Read More
Dr. Ofer Kenig analyzes the predicted rate of representation of women in the 20th Knesset as compared to previous Knessets and as compared to the rate of women's representation in the parliaments of other democracies.Read More
In the upcoming elections, the electoral threshold will be 3.25%, a big leap from the last elections. Will this higher hurdle deter voters from supporting small parties? Will it reduce the share of wasted votes? What impact will it have on the proportional nature of the electoral system?Read More
A discussion of the principal issues pertaining to campaign financing in Israel, written before the Knesset elections of 2015.Read More
The demise of the 19th Knesset was hastened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's firing of Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. In the article below, IDI researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig discusses the various grounds for firing ministers in the past and how the current case fits into Israeli political practice.Read More
Following the announcement of the dissolution of the partnership between Yisrael Beiteinu and the Likud, IDI researcher Assaf Shapira explores the implications of Knesset faction splits.Read More
Who elects the president? What are the candidacy requirements? What majority is needed to win the election and how is it obtained? Dr. Ofer Kenig explains some of the basics.Read More
Dr. Ofer Kenig responds to the initiative to abolish the presidency and emphasizes that such decisions require due consideration and cannot be taken as part of a capricious move that tramples on the democratic rules of the game.Read More
In an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, Dr. Ofer Kenig warns that while there is nothing wrong with a moderate increase in Israel's electoral threshold, increasing it from 2% to 3.25% in a single step is problematic.Read More
IDI Researcher Dr. Chen Friedberg warns that the government's prolonged inability to appoint a permanent head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee may be causing serious harm to the very foundations of Israeli democracy.Read More
In an op-ed in Makor Rishon, Dr. Ofer Kenig responds to calls to eliminate the institution of the presidency, and explains the value of the presidency in Israel and other parliamentary democracies.Read More
Is Prof. Dan Shechtman, who formally announced his candidacy for the 2014 presidential race in Israel, any different than traditional candidates for the position? IDI researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig surveys the characteristics of Israel's past presidents and presidential candidates.Read More
Dr. Nir Atmor, Dr. Dana Blander, and Assaf Shapira share some preliminary findings on voter turnout and women's representation in the Israeli municipal elections of 2013.Read More
Why is voter participation in local elections in Israel so low? Assaf Shapira explains the reasons behind this phenomenon, discusses its implications, and offers possible remedies.Read More
A professional assessment of proposed changes to Basic Law: The Government and the Election Bill, which was submitted by Prof. Gideon Rahat to MK David Rotem, Chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.
An update on the status of the proposed Governance Bill and how it aligns with the recommendations of IDI researchers, which was written after IDI experts participated in Knesset committee deliberations.Read More
A video in which IDI researchers discuss some of the pros and cons of the Governance Bill being considered by the Knesset.Read More
Dr. Ofer Kenig, of IDI's Political Reform project, cautiously examines whether the events of the Arab Spring indicate the rise of substantial democracy in the Arab world or whether they merely exchanged one type of authoritarian regime for another—a non-liberal Islamic regime.Read More
How many parties make up the 33rd government of Israel? How many first time ministers does the cabinet have? What is the breakdown of men and women in the government? Dr. Ofer Kenig presents an overview of the 2013 Israeli cabinet.Read More
In an article specially written for the IDI website, Dr. Ofer Kenig explains the basic principles of the process of coalition building, sharing facts, figures, and comparative data.Read More
Israeli voters are increasingly influenced by the personality of the party head rather than by the party's ideology. In this op-ed, written before the 2013 Knesset elections, Prof. Gideon Rahat, head of IDI's Political Reform project, shares his thoughts on the cult of personality in Israeli politics.Read More
IDI researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig draws conclusions from the trends that emerged on Election Day and sketches the anticipated nature of the 19th Knesset.Read More
The 19th Knesset is expected to have a record number of women MKs. Nonetheless, the percentage of women in the Knesset is lower than that found in the parliaments of most other established democracies. IDI researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig provides an overview of the situation.
The findings of the Party Democracy Index, a new tool designed to evaluate the level of democracy within political parties, which was designed by IDI's political reform research team and released in advance of the 2013 Knesset elections.Read More
In an article written before the elections for the 19th Knesset, IDI researchers Ofer Kenig and Nir Atmor focus on five elements of Israel’s political system that they believe are in dire need of change.Read More
IDI researchers Dr. Ofer Kenig and Assaf Shapira review the different ways in which Israeli parties choose their candidates for the Knesset, while focusing on the three parties that had primary elections this year: Habayit Hayehudi, Likud, and the Labor Party.Read More
Upon the announcement of early elections, IDI researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig reviews the performance of the 18th Knesset and wonders how it will be judged by history.Read More
Prof. Gideon Rahat, Director of Research of IDI's Political Reform project, recommends several changes that can help strengthen Israel's political parties and restore them to reasonable performance.Read More
Dr. Ofer Kenig of IDI's Political Reform project discusses the need for electoral reform in Israel, recommending the adoption of a regional-proportional system in particular.Read More
In 2009, IDI Former President and Founder Dr. Arye Carmon established The Forum for Political Reform in Israel in response to "the urgent need to generate significant improvement in the capabilities and functioning of the Knesset." On March 28, 2011, Forum Chairman Meir Shamgar, Former President of the Israeli Supreme Court, submitted the Forum's recommendations to the Knesset. In this video interview, Dr. Carmon speaks about the Forum, its key recommendations, and obstacles to political reform in Israel.Read More
In the summer of 2010, Prof. Matthew S. Shugart of the University of California, San Diego, served as an academic consultant for IDI's Forum for Political Reform in Israel. In this article, he explores Israel's problems of governance based on a comparison with other parliamentary democracies and proposes a series of reforms that would be beneficial in strengthening Israel's political system.Read More
An interview in which IDI Former President and Founder Dr. Arye Carmon discusses the Institute's achievements, his views on the government and its size, and the connection between his expertise on Nazi Germany and his research on democracy.Read More
A broad survey of the various models of district elections that could be adopted in Israel, which includes a comparative international perspective and explores the factors that must be taken into consideration when deciding to adopt such a system in Israel.Read More
Is the institution of the presidency necessary? Who elects the president? Is the election an open vote or secret ballot? Dr. Ofer Kenig explores the situation in Israel and other parliamentary democracies.Read More
The Israel Democracy Institute's proposal to expand Israeli absentee voting rights strikes a balance that takes into account certain unique aspects of the Israeli political system.
Practical Experience and Lessons Learned
Author: Moran Nagid,
Recognition of the democratic significance of public participation in the decision-making process has led to significant growth in the number and diversity of initiatives to increase public participation all over the world. At the same time, however, doubt has begun to be cast on the quality of these processes. Responding to this criticism, this policy paper examines and evaluates the extent to which public participation mechanisms have been successful and sets out guidelines for a successful model of public participation.Find out More
An English adaptation of Hebrew policy recommendations on political reform distributed to Israeli decision makers in the period leading up to the elections for the 20th Knesset in 2015.Find out More
A policy paper that explores the role of members of Israeli political parties, based on a survey of 1,210 party members, and makes recommendations that can rectify some of the problematic aspects of party membership in the future.Find out More
A Comparative Perspective
A study on women's representation in the Knesset and the Israeli government that includes recommendations for improvement of the situation.Find out More
Author: Or Tuttnauer,
A study that examines the status of the parliamentary opposition in Israel, its abilities, and limitations, comparing it with oppositions in 20 established democracies throughout the world.Find out More
Author: Nir Atmor,, Chen Friedberg,
A Hebrew booklet for decision-makers that summarizes recommendations made in two IDI publications: Legislative Oversight of the Executive Branch in Israel and Reforming Israel's Political System.
This book diagnoses the ills of the Israeli system of government in four key areas—the electoral system, the Knesset, the Government, and Israel's political parties—and proposes recommendations for reform in each.Find out More
Developed for Israeli policy-makers, this booklet is a summary of the content of the book Reforming Israel's Political System, which was . It offers an overview of the shortcomings of Israel’s political system in four areas—the electoral system, political parties, the Knesset, and the government—and presents key recommendations for reform.Find out More
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