Center for Governance and the Economy

The Center for Governance and the Economy aims to promote reforms in Israel's political system, civil service and labor market, in order to improve the functioning of these systems and increase public confidence in them.

Among other achievements, these programs have resulted in the repeal of direct elections for the Prime Minister, the establishment of Israel's National Economic Council, and the creation of the Knesset's Legislative Information Center.

The Center's flagship event is the Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society (formerly the Caesarea Economic Policy Planning Forum), which is widely recognized as Israel's most influential economic conference.

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    Daphna Aviram-Nitzan

    Director

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    Daphna Aviram-Nitzan is the former head of the migration research unit at Aharon Meir Center for Banking and Economic Policy at Bar-Ilan University and the former director of the economic research division at the Manufacturers Association of Israel.

     

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    Prof. Gideon Rahat

    Director, Political Reform Program

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    Professor Rahat is a faculty member of the Political Sciences Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an International Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of California, Irvine.

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    Prof. Yuval Feldman

    Senior Fellow, Labor Market Reform Program

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    Professor Yuval Feldman is a full professor at the Faculty of Law at Bar-Ilan University and a former fellow of Institutional Corruption Lab at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

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    Prof. Yotam Margalit

    Senior Fellow

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    Professor Margalit headed a large, experimental cross-national study of the investment decisions of multinational firms, a project that he developed and carried out in collaboration with the World Bank and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

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    Prof. Eytan Sheshinski

    Senior Fellow

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    Shirli Ben-Tolila

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Vocational training in Israel used to be a success story, but lack of funding and management has severely compromised its effectiveness. Dr. Eitan Regev explains how this in turn impairs productivity and wages and what should be done to improve this important program.

All in all, the human landscape of the Knesset continues a trend of an improved representation, which better reflects the heterogenous Israeli society. Still, several groups are still under-represented, mainly women, non-Jews, young adults and “Russians”.

Those who are not familiar with the Knesset’s day-to-day activities may mistakenly believe that it normally functions efficiently.

On July 19th 2019, Netanyahu’s total days in office as Israel’s prime minister equals Ben-Gurion’s and on July 20th he will hold the title of the Israeli prime minister with the longest term in office. This also will make him the third most 'veteran' leader among the OECD countries. 

 

Why should parties be allowed to use state funding for ongoing expenses to cover the debts accrued during political campaigns?

Long ridiculed, Labor is one of the few parties that meet stringent standards on campaign finance and transparency

The debate in Israel over the proper interrelationship among the three branches of government has become heated in recent years. IDI holds that any discussion of separation of powers should focus on functional boundaries among the branches, and on their mutual capacities for oversight. The following paper presents a series of proposals for addressing these issues and strengthening the separation of powers.

The proposal promotes personal and political interests, strikes a severe blow to the public’s trust in democracy and to elected officials’ obligation to act with integrity

An opinion submitted today (June 26th) to MKs, the Attorney General, and the Knesset Legal Advisor on behalf of the Israel Democracy Institute, opposes the proposal to repeal the law to dissolve the Knesset and seeks to take the proposal off the agenda.

The rerun elections expose a weakness in our system of government and highlight the need to modify the current system for forming a government

Benjamin Netanyahu couldn’t form a government, because the electoral system is dysfunctional. The country needs to enact two simple reforms, or it will face perpetual stalemate.

Among other things, government corruption deals a blow to the country’s economic vitality, and makes it less attractive to investors and entrepreneurs.

Reframing the eco-system to prepare for Israel’s job market of the future.

In Israel, people vote for a party rather than a candidate. But over the years, there has been a shift towards the personalization of politics. Prof. Gideon Rahat offers his take

Lawmakers sit on too many committees and propose too many laws. The fix starts with government members quitting the Knesset

The current paper presents data on the parliamentary work of the MKs and parties in the outgoing Knesset. All the information is based on data taken from the Knesset archives and the Knesset’s Research and Information Center which are open to the public

As talks begin toward the formation of a new government – it is an opportunity to call on the Prime Minister to keep the number of Ministers low

After an exhausting and polarizing election campaign, the people have spoken, and we’re now entering the next stage of the political lifecycle: forming a new government - Dr. Kenig explains what’s next

The 2019 election results mark the return of Israeli politics to two large lists. Voter turnout declined, as the parliamentary fragmentation. The impressing increase in female representation was halted, and the number of ex-generals will be the highest in decades. An initial analysis of the election results.  

In Israel, people vote for a party rather than a candidate. But over the years, there has been a shift towards the personalization of politics. Why have our elections become a competition among single personalities rather than a confrontation among different parties and ideas? Prof. Gideon Rahat offers his take

What reforms are necessary to repair the electoral process to improve governance? Prof. Gideon Rahat sits down to discuss the upcoming elections with David Schulberg from the Israel Connexion in Australia

Why doesn't the government take more initiative towards peace? Why is there no egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall? How come the ultra-Orthodox don't serve in the military? The common denominator to all these issues is that they all stem from a structural flaw in our electoral system, which allows vocal minorities to hold the national interest hostage to their concerns and interests

The alliances and fragmentation has far-reaching consequences for the work of the Knesset and the government

As the Israeli attorney-general is expected to announce his decision regarding the possible indictment of Prime Minister Netanyahu on corruption charges, Tipping Point hosts two leading experts for a discussion on the legal and political ramifications. Dr. Guy Lurie (Israel Democracy Institute) and Dr. Emmanuel Navon (Kohelet Policy Forum) try to make sense of what’s about to come

Following the merger between Yesh Atid and the Israel Resilience Party, April’s elections will feature real competition between two major blocs. The next step in minimizing fragmentation in the Israeli political system is reforming the method by which a government is formed. The head of the largest party should automatically be appointed to form the next government.

Primaries often don't reflect the true will of actual party supporters -- voters should weigh in on Election Day

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The third in a series of articles and videos prepared by the Israel Democracy Institute in the run-up to April 9, explaining and critiquing what goes on during an election period

Despite record numbers in the Knesset, few females hold senior government posts — their absence leaves Israel worse off.

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In February 1969, Golda Meir was appointed fourth prime minister of the State of Israel. Despite this achievement, the inclusion of women in Israel’s cabinets is far from impressive. Dr. Ofer Kenig explains that after 70 years of independence, the time has come for Israel’s governments to strive for true equality and reflect greater gender balance.

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“The current system grants small parties disproportionate power, leads to excessive preoccupation with coalition management, does not provide strong incentives for creating an effective opposition, and leads to the allocation of over-sized budgets to sectoral interests. We need to create a system of incentives which will solidify the political system into two main blocs.” says Prof. Gideon Rahat

Despite a solid decade with the same prime minister, other cabinet posts have switched hands at alarming rates.

As Israeli political parties begin to formulate their lists of candidates for the upcoming election, Tipping Point hosts Prof. Gideon Rahat, (Israel Democracy Institute), and Dr. Emmanuel Navon (Kohelet Policy Forum) for a conversation on the pros and cons of the primary system.

What will secure victory in the 2019 elections: inter-party alliances, or splits? Yohanan Plesner discusses with The Israel Project, Israel’s multi-party system, processes of fragmentation and their detrimental effects on effective governance

The steady increase in the percentage of women in Israel's parliament has not been accompanied by a concomitant rise in their cabinet representation. In this article, IDI researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig argues that the new government that will be formed following the 2019 elections provides Israel with a golden opportunity to rectify this situation.

It is commonly accepted that in order to defeat Netanyahu, the political parties in the center and on the Left must unite and present a single and clear alternative. However, under the current system, this claim is simply not true.

How will yesterday's announcement impact the elections? Will Bennet and Shaked take votes from the right and will their gamble pay off? Listen to Prof. Gideon Rahat talk to The Israel Project on the fragmentation of the Israeli political system.

 

Supporters of this government show increasing tolerance for graft, and this is a red flag for the rule of law in Israel.

Israel’s system of local elections has been in place since the 1970s - but is it optimal? Prof. Gideon Rahat proposes reform to enhance the compatibility of the system to the characteristics and needs of different localities.

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Daphna Aviram-Nitzan and her team at IDI set out 18 months ago to resolve some of the heavy bureaucratic and regulatory burden with which the business sector must contend when establishing new manufacturing plants and doing business in Israel. The result is the “Regulatory One-Stop-Shop for Investors”, which was adopted in August 2018 by the government to improve the ease of doing business in Israel.

The digital domain has developed into something of a wild west for election campaigning in recent years. While there are strict laws governing the press, radio, and television, there are almost no restrictions on online campaigning, such as on the forms of advertising permitted, the use of personal data, and advertising budgets. This lack of regulation has already been shown to potentially affect election results, and may lead to the misuse of information on residents, routinely collected by the municipality as part of its function by those in positions of power in local government. 

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There is a glaring gap between the tremendous promise of Israel’s innovating workforce and the antiquated laws that constrain its productivity. In this video, IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Yotam Margalit proposes a series of changes to Israeli labor law, including new mechanisms for flexible working arrangements that will benefit both employers and employees.

"While Israeli national politics get most of the coverage, it is the local level that in many cases has the greatest impact on Israeli lives." Read Yohanan Plesner's op-ed on the upcoming municipal elections and why electoral reform is required, both on the local and national level.

In a democracy, parliaments are supposed to not only pass laws but also engage in oversight; that is, to ensure that legislation is implemented and identify deficiencies in the government’s work.

Recent years have seen the emergence of dozens of corruption scandals involving local government in Israel. Subsequently there have been calls to set mayoral term limits to prevent graft and corruption. Dr. Ofer Kenig and Shahaf Zamir's dispel the idea that there is a connection between the length of a mayors term and levels of corruption.

Guaranteeing an independent Supreme Court. Integrating the Ultra-Orthodox into the IDF. Boosting participation of Arab women in the workforce. Improving the ease of doing business in Israel. These are some of the challenges facing IDI’s new cadre of program and center directors.

In an interview Prof. Yuval Feldman, discusses his new book "The Law of Good People" and sheds light on the connection between good people and corruption.

A Special Analysis by the Israel Democracy Institute on which MKs make the most use of the parliamentary tools available to them.

 Yedidia Stern, speaks to hosts Dahlia Scheindlin and Gilad Halpern about the fundamental nature of Israeli society – and how it is changing. He expresses his fears about disturbing the balance of a Jewish and democratic state, as the nation-state law threatens to do. He believes that Israel must be a Jewish state, but without a legal anchor for equality, society is in trouble. He reflects on how religious life is being dominated by the ultra-orthodox; and diaspora Jews, especially Americans, should have a say in public life but not too much.

Behavioral ethics, a growing area within psychology and management literature, demonstrates that an individual’s unethical behavior is demonstrated through self-deception.

The number of vacation days in Israel is among the lowest in the world. Research by Prof. Yotam Margalit presents a new model which will ensure a minimum of 18 vacation days for each worker.

Israel suffers from a shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing industries and hi-tech and an overflow of the service sector; priorities in the allocation of public resources for the training of human capital must be changed to better fit the needs of the economy.

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The Democracy Pavilion, a unique multi-media experience, in full 360 degree technology, showcasing the values embedded in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, is open to the public.

The absolute exclusion of women from ultra-Orthodox parties keeps their specific interests from being addressed effectively in the public sphere.

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The nation state law is the "identity law" of the state, and this will have a revolutionary significance, since democracy is not mentioned in it.

IDI President calls on the leaders of the coalition factions to stop politicizing the civil service

Statesmanship or lack thereof has been in the background of a long list of scandals and incidents that have rocked Israeli politics in recent years

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In recent years we have seen one Prime Minister, several ministers and numerous mayors charged and convicted on corruption. But most people enter politics for idealistic reasons and with good intentions. So what went wrong? 

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As calls for a "majoritarian democracy" gain strength in Israel, IDI's President warns of the dangers associated with a tyranny of the majority, and makes the case for a richer interpretation of democracy, grounded in the principles of liberty, equality and the separation of powers.

Despite making regulatory improvements, the past decade saw Israel continue its slip down the World Bank's annual ease of doing business rankings. But this descent can still be reversed.

"In order to change this trend, we must increase the use of technological tools and behavioral economics."

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There are ways to transform this powerful committee into one that combines politics with professionalism, instead of being one more arena for the settling of political scores.

Regulation, transparency and enforcement capabilities are crucial steps for lobbying to work.  

A summary of where the law stands regarding alleged wrong doing by the premier, as well as timely suggestions for reform, are in order.

When legislators exhibit such disdain for the country’s legislative body, is it any wonder the average citizen does too?

A set of reforms must be implemented so that Knesset members' supervisory ability over the government will be enhanced.

The Knesset is one of the smallest parliaments in the world, in terms of legislators per capita. As a result, the effectiveness of the Israeli parliament is diminished, especially regarding the important task of overseeing the executive.

For Israel's economy to grow, significant investment in building a strong and effective infrastructure for occupational training and reemployment is critical.

“Pray for the welfare of the government. For if it were not for fear of it, one man would swallow his fellow alive (Avot 3:3).”

Everything you wanted to know about the Labor Party primaries but didn't know who to ask.

To tackle the crisis of democracy we must restore the public's faith in its governing institutions.

Donald Trump’s surprise win seems to illustrate the awesome power of the Internet-savvy individual in politics.

The impressive increase of women's representation in the Knesset has not translated into similar strides in other political spheres and senior executive positions.

As the Knesset, Israel’s legislature, marks its birthday, IDI takes the opportunity to consider two aspects about it: its members’ social composition and its relative size.

Harnessing the power of readily available technological tools to promote political engagement and revitalize intra-party democratic practices is essential for strengthening party institutions and restoring the public’s faith in government.

The Knesset’s top priority for 2017 should be to restore the Israeli public’s belief in its political institutions.

As of November 22, 2016, Benjamin Netanyahu will have occupied the Prime Minister’s Office for 2,793 days in a row, thereby surpassing David Ben-Gurion for the longest continuous tenure as premier in Israeli history. 

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.

Liberal democracy is in crisis everywhere. We in Israel have our share of problems. Our democracy is far from perfect, and it is under massive pressures — both external and internal. But all in all, if we look at the world around us, Israel is doing rather well. This article was originally published by the Atlanta Jewish Times.

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.

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.

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.

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%). 

On Monday, February 1, 2016, the long and complex process in which the two major American parties choose their candidates for president began in Iowa. One of those two candidates will be the 45th President of the United States. What exactly are the presidential primaries? What makes them so long and complicated? What is their timetable and who, for now, are the main candidates? 

The Eli Hurvitz Conference focuses on long-term strategic issues of importance to the government and the state. The conference is based on research and professional discussions, and integrates a wide range of experts, government officials and businessmen.

  • Open to the public
  • Hebrew
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  • Open to the public
  • Hebrew
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  • Hebrew
  • Open to the public
  • Live
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The Eli Hurvitz Conference focuses on long-term strategic issues of importance to the government and the state. The conference is based on research and professional discussions, and integrates a wide range of experts, government officials and businessmen.

  • Participation by invitation only
  • Hebrew
  • English Simultaneous Translation

After 70 years, how are we implementing the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and what will we be proud of when we celebrate our 100th anniversary?

  • Open to the public
  • Hebrew

The Status of the Declaration of Independence: Vision, Law or Constitution? Marking the transition from the Assembly of Representatives to the Knesset, February 1949

  • Open to the public
  • Hebrew

What is the most suitable way to select candidates for the Knesset? What are the pros and cons of the various methods, from the leader's method to open primaries? What are the opportunities and risks involved in adopting an open primaries model?

  • Participation by invitation only

Do political appointments in the civil service improve governance or obstruct gatekeepers' oversight abilities? This special discussion is being convened by the Israel Democracy Institute and Center for Citizen Empowerment.

  • Live
  • Participation by invitation only

This year the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) will bestow the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award MK Roy Folkman (Kulanu) and MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid)

  • Hebrew
  • Participation by invitation only

Work collaboratively in an intimate setting and among senior thought leaders on ways to strengthen the socioeconomic strategy of the state of Israel.

  • Participation by invitation only

An Israel Democracy Institute event in collaboration with the Hebrew paper Makor Rishon

  • Hebrew
  • Open to the public

A second meeting of the caucus for strengthening the stature of the Knesset led by MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid). Discussion focused on private-member legislation, which is brought before the Knesset at a higher rate than among most Western countries.