Political Reform Program

This flagship program seeks to address the key challenges facing Israel's parliamentary system, including political instability, over-centralization, fragmentation of the party system, rising populism, a decline in the prestige and effectiveness of the Knesset and deteriorating public trust in political institutions.

The program develops and promotes proposals for reform, with an emphasis on measures to stabilize the political system, boost the Prime Minister's capacity to govern, strengthen parliamentary oversight of the executive branch, and democratize intra-party processes. Over the years, the program has contributed to the repeal of direct elections for the Prime Minister, raising the electoral threshold for the Knesset and the establishment of the Legislative Information Center of the Knesset.


In the wake of five elections in less than four years, the program is focused on promoting a series of critical reforms designed to restore stability to Israel’s political system.

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    Dr. Assaf Shapira


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    Assaf Shapira received a PhD in Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and at the Centre d’études européennes (Center for European Studies) at the Sciences po (Paris).

    His research largely focuses on political representation, political parties, the role of money in politics, and reforms in Israel's public service.

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    Prof. Gideon Rahat

    Senior Fellow

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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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    Dr. Dana Blander

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    Research Fellow and Research Consultant


    Dr. Dana Blander is a Research Fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute and an expert clinical psychologist. Her doctoral thesis - "ambivalence as a challenge to the political order" - which combines political philosophy with psychoanalytic insights won the Alex Berger Award of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 2008. She served as a guest lecturer at Tufts University in Boston in the years 2010-2011.

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    Dr. Chen Friedberg

    Research Fellow

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    Dr. Chen Friedberg has co-written many papers published by the Israel Democracy Institute.

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    Prof. Ofer Kenig

    Research Fellow

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    Prof. Ofer Kenig is a senior lecturer in Ashkelon Academic College and a research fellow in Israel Democracy Institute. His areas of research include comparative politics, political parties, leadership and candidate selection and Israeli politics. He co-authored the books Reforming Israel's Political System (2013)The Promise and Challenge of Party Primary Elections (2016) and From Party Politics to Personalized Politics (2018).

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    Avital Friedman


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    Asaf Heiman

    Research Assistant

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    Asaf holds a bachelor's and master’s degree in political science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His thesis presented on a comparative study of political parties in local government in Israel. At IDI, Asaf researches local politics in Israel and explores ways to promote local democracy in Israel. As part of this, Asaf focuses on studying the activities of political parties in Israel's local government and the local electoral system.

Elections for the Chief Rabbinate Council and the two chief rabbis (“the Chief Rabbinate elections”) will likely be announced in the near term. The present document suggests a number of fundamental changes to its membership, with the goal of making it more representative.

The Labor and Meretz parties recently announced their intention to merge. Though these are relatively small parties today—Meretz has no representation at all in the current Knesset, and Labor has just four seats—this is still a significant event from a historical perspective and within the Zionist left.

While the Israeli public has been focusing on the war and on the hostages in Gaza, the government—led by the minister of justice—has been preparing an assault on the independence of the judicial system.

The recent municipal elections produced particularly interesting results in Arab local authorities. Below, we examine several aspects of these results relating to the representation of Arab women.

V-Dem's latest report downgraded Israel's status from a "liberal democracy" to an "electoral democracy." The change in Israel's category is concerning, but on its own, it does not necessarily indicate a clear democratic decline. 

The National Unity faction in the Knesset is disbanding and reverting into the two parties that composed its list of candidates in the last election. The splitting of joint lists does not contribute to political stability. It contributes to fragmentation within the political system and may be perceived as political cynicism.

Between 1996 and 2015, there was a real improvement in women's representation in the Knesset. Since 2015, however, it seems this upward trend has stalled and female legislative representation is faltering, especially compared to other democracies.

Arab-Israeli public officials are being increasingly targeted by criminals, hoping to get their way through threats, extortion and force ahead of Tuesday's local elections. Running for office shouldn't cost people their lives.

When Israeli liberals depend solely on the Supreme Court for checks and balances, they are taking a big risk. It is essential to add veto points as human rights in Israel should not depend on the Supreme Court alone - decentralization of government is key. 

For local government to be able to truly represent all residents and understand the diversity of their different needs, it is important that there be appropriate representation of men and women alike

In the system of democracy currently in place in Israel, Knesset members represent the public. This is indisputable. However, the ties between the public and its representatives are very weak.

The impact of the proposed changes to the judicial system on the financial balance of Israeli households: analysis of the M.O.F risk scenarios by income deciles

The proposed government resolution fails to explain why a National Guard is needed, how to ensure that it does not target minority groups unjustifiably, and what the division of labor will be with the police. It is also liable to result in the increased militarization of law enforcement in Israel, which could lead to disproportionate infringement of human rights.

Precisely what legal clause Levin and company will choose to achieve their goals isn’t really important, but the larger implications certainly are.

A top democracy index hasn't yet ranked Israel with Hungary. That will change if the majority becomes all powerful

The concepts of a “position” and “conflict of interest” crop up frequently in the discussion of the judicial revolution - that is why the facts are so important

Just one year ago, women’s representation in Israeli politics soared to an all-time high—in the Knesset, in the Government, and in local authorities. But today, we are going backwards. The approach of International Women’s Day is an appropriate time to look at the current situation and express concern as to this trend.

Increased corruption and damage to Israel's economy - four simple figures with important lessons for Israel’s judicial overhaul

Coercive regulations and enforcement, especially in democratic countries, have a more limited reach than governments are prepared to admit.

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation is a powerful force behind legislation in Israel – therefore it isn’t surprising that Ben-Gvir is vying for the position of Vice-Chairman.

Netanyahu will soon begin his third term as Prime Minister – 26 years after he was first elected to the position. This is an extraordinary accomplishment – however not unheard and there are other leaders of democratic countries who have made more than one comeback.

Limits should be placed on the conditions under which joint lists composed of several parties can split up. It also needs to be clear under what circumstances a Knesset Member who has seceded from his faction must resign, so that the resignation will be considered to be “soon after his secession.”


The trend to divvy up the government in political agreements has reached new heights - with detrimental impact on the ministries ability to provide high-quality service

Israel still has no constitution, and the separation of powers seems fragile. What challenges will Israel’s democracy face in the next government?

With regards to the relations between the Coalition and the Opposition in the new Knesset - we must restoring the crown to its former glory

The “Norwegian Law” has many troubling and significant downsides - however Israel's parliament is simply too small.

Joint lists that fall apart quickly often do more harm than good, heightening political divisiveness and instability

Fourteen days after the election, the 25th Knesset will be sworn in. This is the fifth Knesset inauguration in less than 3½ years—testimony to the political crisis which Israel is undergoing. How many new MKs are there? Will the stagnation in female representation continue? How many MKs have a background in local government?


The elections for the 25th Knesset assembly produced a clear result. Israel’s citizens have had their say, and the political system is now entering the next stage of the cycle: forming a new government. Over the coming days, President Herzog will consult with the representatives of the factions elected to the Knesset, and will decide whom to entrust with the task of forming a government. This will begin the process that will culminate in the swearing-in of Israel’s 37th government. What are the rules that govern this process, and what can we learn from past experience in Israel and in other countries?


Despite a clear majority of seats in the Knesset for Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition, the number of votes cast in the 2022 elections in Israel was almost equal between the factions. How is this possible?
Israel's electoral process is one of proportional representation and includes a 3.25% threshold. Find out what role this played in determining election results and how it differs from the American electoral college system.

From a comparative perspective, the electoral threshold in Israel (3.25%) seems perfectly reasonable. In the vast majority of democracies, this figure ranges from 2% to 5%. Every percent plus or minus comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. When the threshold is higher, there is a greater danger that votes will go to waste. This is what just happened in Israel, where the lists that came up short of the threshold now find themselves out of the Knesset. But this is not predestined: whether parties clear the threshold or not, depends on their use of their political intelligence.

After five elections in less than four years – Israel is on its way to political stability. Although the number of voters since 2021 didn’t change dramatically – almost 9% of the votes were wasted below the electoral threshold – how does this affect the makeup of the new Knesset?  In addition the 2022 elections resulted in a clear victory for former Prime Minister Netanyahu, even though voters were split on whether they wanted him back in office. Prof. Kenig explains.


The 2022 elections resulted in a clear victory for former Prime Minister Netanyahu, even though voters were split on whether they wanted him back in office. Prof. Kenig explains.

Does the past predict the future? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. What we can expect is stability in the number of double-envelope ballots, which will have a negligible impact on the distribution of Knesset seats between the blocs, unless they push some list below the threshold.

What it is the significance of “vote-sharing agreements,” how is it decided which of the parties that signed a vote-sharing agreement gains an additional seat, and what happens if one of the parties does not pass the electoral threshold? The answers to all these questions are provided in this overview.

With less than a month to go to Israel’s fifth elections in three and a half years, it is clear that governmental instability has wreaked huge damage. The work of the Knesset and of the government has suffered, as Knesset members and ministers are constantly operating in a campaign mode. The rules of the game that are generating this instability must be addressed carefully and based on a broad consensus.

Diplomatic briefing with IDI President Yohanan Plesner and Researcher Dr. Arik Rudnitzky on Israel’s fifth national elections in less than four years. The briefing focused on the electoral crisis, the state of Israeli democracy as well as the latest developments regarding the political parties and voting patterns of Arab Israelis.

The current political instability is the result a breach of accepted rules of the game that are based on assumptions about the nature of politics—and even of human nature.

The current campaign finance system in Israel incentivizes existing parties and creates a closed club where its difficult for new parties to compete. How can the system be reformed?

The dramatic differences among the different parties in terms of women’s representation in realistic candidate slots raise the question of what has gone wrong with the gender quota system. One simple recommendation for gradually increasing these quotas could radically change the situation and help ensure equitable representation for women

Former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot’s decision to join Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa’ar’s new political framework is a part of a long-standing trend in which retired IDF chiefs of staff join the political system.

The election campaign for the 25th Knesset is in its early stages, and one of the key landmarks is September 15th when all the parties contending must submit their list of candidates.

Dr. Assaf Shapira discusses the primary system in Israel with Bicom's Richard Pater. They talk about why parties chose to elect their candidates through different systems and what benefits parties such as the Likud and Labor gain from using the closed primary system.

How much does religious affiliation influence the votes that Israelis cast in the ballot box? Central Bureau of Statistics data and Viterbi Center surveys are used to present a comprehensive picture.

Israel has a closed electoral system, so that on election day, the country’s citizens do not vote for individual representatives, but rather-for a list, which subsequently evolves into a faction in the Knesset. What does that mean in terms of balancing the power between the party and  individual parliament members?

The 24th Knesset has dispersed, around a year and a quarter since it was sworn in. The most prominent finding in the following review is that this Knesset continued the trend set by its predecessor: Both saw a dramatic increase in the number of private members’ bills put forward, and a dramatic reduction in the proportion of such bills that passed a third reading and became laws.

Joint lists decrease political polarization in the Knesset, but this might not hold true when it comes to artificial mergers and parties that have never proven that they represent a significant portion of the population.

Merav Michaeli just became the first Labor leader to win reelection since the party adopted the ‘primaries’ system in 1992. IDI expert Prof. Ofer Kenig presents three pertinent insights on the state of democracy in the party founded by the leaders who established Israel.

What majority is required to pass a law to dissolve the Knesset on the various readings? After the Knesset is dissolved, how do it and the Government function? What do things look like right now?

Israel is about to hold its fifth election in less than four years. With elections taking place every 2.4 years, this places Israel first in the world in terms of frequencies of elections since 1996.

As Israel prepares for the dispersal of the Knesset, which will lead to the fifth election in less than four years, CNN's Hadas Gold spoke with Yohanan Plesner to unpack what all this means

A fifth election in three years, is a clear indication that Israel’s worst political crisis did not end when this government was sworn into office.

Following the announcement by MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi that she no longer views herself as a member of the governing coalition, Dr. Assaf Shapira, Director of the Political Reform Program at the Israel Democracy Institute, examined the three instances in which a minority government of 59 MKs served in Israel.

The Knesset might be dissolved before the end of its term – a phenomenon not unique to Israel, but rather common to almost every parliamentary democracy providing a degree of flexibility.

The unlikely coalition that survived thanks to the one vote has lost the parliamentary majority. Does this mean that the Knesset will disperse and new elections will be held? Dr. Dana Blander explains the different ways in which the Knesset can be dissolved and discusses the relationship between these mechanisms and government stability in a parliamentary system. 

Ahead of the Knesset House Committee’s debate and vote to declare MK Amichai Chikli as a ‘defector’ - what is a parliamentary defector, how are they designated as such, and what are the repercussions? IDI experts Dr. Chen Friedberg, Dr. Assaf Shapira have all the answers.

IDI experts Prof. Gideon Rahat and Dr. Chen Friedberg explain what a Constructive No-Confidence Vote means for the stability of Israel’s government.


In the wake of the latest political crisis - can a minority government prevent yet another election? 

In the wake of the announcement by MK Idit Silman (Yamina party) that she no longer supports the current government (as Yamina MK Amichai Chikli did shortly after the coalition was established), the coalition now includes only 60 Knesset members. What are the implications of her move? What developments can we expect to see in the government and the Knesset in the near future?

As we mark International Women’s Day, there are a record number of women are in the Knesset (35) and in the government (9) but most senior government positions are still held by men.

As the Knesset, Israel’s legislature, marks its 73rd birthday, IDI is taking the opportunity to reflect on two of its characteristics; the social composition of its membership and its size as compared with other countries.

Critical reforms are necessary to ensure the quality and future of Israeli democracy

The recently proposed bill would limit the tenure of the Prime Minister in Israel to eight years (continuous or cumulative). At the end of that time, the Government would be considered to have resigned and its head would no longer be eligible to serve as Prime Minister. This limitation would apply only to tenure after the date of the law’s passage.

To date, the Knesset was dissolved only once due to failure to pass a budget. On December 23, 2020: the 23rd Knesset was dissolved after it did not approve the budget. Originally, the law mandated that the government approve the budget by August 2020, but as part of what was termed the "Hauser compromise" the law was amended, and the date was postponed to December of that year.


In Israel, there are frequent complaints about over-regulation, burdensome bureaucracy and inefficient law. On the other hand, many acknowledge that there are areas where regulations are lacking or out of date. IDI experts weigh in and explains the proposed new law that are set to reform Israel's regulatory framework.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, finally left office this year. He is now on trial on corruption charges and Israel is ruled by the most diverse coalition in its history. Financial Times Gideon Rachman discusses Israel’s new political landscape with Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute

Minister Gideon Saar's proposed bill preventing a criminal defendant from forming a government is unprecedented, but so is the reality in Israel.

Writing in Foreign Affairs, IDI President Yohanan Plesner notes that Netanyahu is out, but the crisis he thrived on remains.

There has been much talk and little action about the need to delegate powers to the local authorities. Now is the time for actual be movement on the ground.

With the Knesset set to vote on a new government on Sunday, Prof. Ofer Kenig, a research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, presents an following analysis of the proposed government.

There are no provisions for limiting the tenure of prime ministers in parliamentary democracies such as Israel, and any new rules must be objective and not made to satisfy political needs

If the “coalition for change” led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid does indeed come into being, it will be a rara avis on the national scene, with the potential to extract us from the political imbroglio we have been mired in for the past two years and more.

A government headed by a prime minister who leads small faction in the Knesset - how exceptional is such a scenario and to what extent is it prevalent in parliamentary systems? Prof. Ofer Kenig analyzes examples of parliamentary democracies where the prime minister hails from a small party.

The race for the election of the 11th President of Israel has officially begun. After the large number of candidates in the race that took place 7 years ago, this time only two will compete: Yitzhak Herzog and Miriam Peretz. Most of the candidates who have run for the presidency throughout Israel's history have had a political-partisan background; Most of them were men, aged sixty plus.


Who elects the president? What are the candidacy requirements? What majority is needed to win the election, and how is it obtained? With the approach of the 2021 presidential elections, Prof. Ofer Kenig explains some of the basics.

As Israel approaches the election of its 11th president, Prof. Ofer Kenig surveys the results of past presidential elections and argues that although the role of the Israeli president is largely ceremonial, the race for the position is partisan and political.

The prime minister who once presented Arab political leaders as a threat has legitimized them as potential coalition partners.

Had Israel adopted a number of reforms proposed in recent decades, today we would have a stable government and a budget—without a fourth election, without a political imbroglio, and without caretaker governments.

In the March 2021 elections, Israel's fourth in two years, voter turnout was down throughout the country. Yet a comparison to the last round of elections in 2020 shows how a more substantial downturn in voting in religious and rightwing strongholds resulted in a significant weakening of Netanyahu's Likud party.

One of the most striking elements to emerge from the preliminary results is that the current Knesset is going to be much more fragmented

Prof. Ofer Kenig presents examples of parliamentary democracies in which the Prime Minister is from a small party.


Prime Minister Netanyahu is promoting legislation that that will institute direct elections for prime minister. How would this proposal work? Will it resolve the political stalemate? Would the Supreme Court rule on its legality? IDI experts weigh in.


IDI President Yohanan Plesner and BICOM Director Richard Pater discuss Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's options for forming a government, possible alternative coalitions and what to look out for in Netanyahu’s trial.


Are the fourth national elections in less than two years due to political chaos or Prime Minister Netanyahu’s legal woes?

Women still constitute less than 30% of all Knesset members and the percentage of female cabinet members in the government has never risen above 23.5%

Dr. Ofer Kenig weighs in on whether the trend toward greater representation of women in the Knesset has come to a standstill and do Israeli governments suffer from high levels of gender inequality

The pandemic has brought to the fore what was already clear - the public's trust in Israel’s local government is much higher than in the central government. It is high time more authority to be transferred to the care of local leaders.

The data reflects a very high turnover rate in Israel's political system. This has both positive and negative aspects. On the one hand - a robust political system should be refreshed - but it can also be a symptom of a "sick" system

After failing to meet the December 22 deadline for passing a budget, Israel is headed towards a once unfathomable fourth election in less than two years. The results of the last three elections in 2019-2020 did not dispel the political turmoil - we are about to see if the results from the fourth elections in 2021 will be any different.

In a classic conflict of interests, the parties dip into the public coffers before every election, flouting any semblance of fiscal responsibility

How often does Israel hold elections? On average every 2.3 years!

This law, unique to Israel, was meant as an incentive to avoid budgetary deadlock. Today, it sows instability.

A tale of two unity governments: The coalition agreement that formed Israel's unity government is all about forcing the parties to live up to the deal. Ireland's is all about policy.

This document examines the functioning of the Knesset during the emergency situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, in a comparative perspective with other countries, and draws conclusions on the changes that are needed to improve its work in future crises.

There have been calls to investigate the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis – but who should do the investigating?

Netanyahu and Gantz could use their unity government to put in place a 'democratic ceasefire' and speed Israel’s economic recovery rather than entrenching political deadlock.

After 18 months of political deadlock, Israel’s 35th government was sworn in - and in many ways it's quite unique.

In mature democracies, parliaments are regaining their relevance in the coronavirus era.

The establishment of the Netanyahu-Gantz government required many compromises.That being said, there is absolutely no way to justify the extravagant size of the new government

The rotation mechanism agreed upon creates a governmental structure, unprecedented neither in Israel or anywhere else

The coronavirus is an international threat but will it stem the growth of populism around the world?

IDI President Yohanan Plesner held an online media briefing and Q&A session on the new coalition agreement between the Likud and Blue and White parties.

Reports of a 30 to 34 minister cabinet in the works beg for a public outcry: Costly, inefficient and divisive is not what we need today.

As the Knesset struggles to resume its work, IDI took a look at how parliaments around the world are putting into place processes and mechanisms that enable them to operate during the coronavirus pandemic so they can fulfill the vital role they play in democracies.

Will the coronavirus crisis result in an unity government, which can, at least temporarily, resolve Israel's political deadlock? IDI experts explain.

In this paper, we argue that in a public health emergency, such as the one we are experiencing now, when unprecedented means are being employed in the fight against COVID-19, the Knesset’s smooth functioning is even more essential, especially with regard to the need for strict and effective oversight of the government.

What will be the economic ramifications of the coronavirus outbreak on the Israeli economy? Prof. Karnit Flug explains.

Since the early 2000s, we have seen an unusual rise in the number of private member bills submitted to the Knesset

The people had their say in these elections. A majority of the Arab Israeli public (65%) turned out to proclaim a resounding vote of confidence in the Joint List

The results of this third round of elections would seem to indicate that, once again, no decisive victory has been won, and that the Israeli political system is likely to remain stuck at the same dead end at which it has been stranded for the last year. Could a government of experts resolve the crisis?

Although there is no precedent in Israel's history for forming a minority government immediately after an election, minority governments around the world are far from a rarity.

How can MKs 'cross the floor' and what sanctions might they face? An explainer by Dr. Assaf Shapira

Rather than “packaging” voting as a political, civic and moral obligation, we should try instead to get these potential voters to think about the personal benefits to be gained by going to the polls.

With two weeks to go, Yohanan Plesner presents the key issues to look out for in Israel's unprecedented third election and what – if anything – will determine if a stable government will finally be formed.

At this writing, Israel seems to be headed towards its third elections within a year. Israel has been governed for almost a year by a caretaker government, and no one can be sure that the next elections will resolve the stalemate. While this state of affairs may fulfill the dreams of libertarians or anarchists, for most others – it looks more like a nightmare.

The terms antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and criticism can be described as three different phenomena - Dr. Shany Mor explains

Considering Israel is facing the third national elections in less than a year, isn't it reasonable to expect the political parties, whose campaigns are publicly funded, to act in a fiscally responsible manner?

Political parties no longer fulfill the goals for which they were intended, rather they have become technical structures that are focused on the ranking of the candidates on their Knesset lists.

After the party lists have been submitted Dr. Assaf Shapira analyzes expected representation of women in the 23rd Knesset based on the September 2019 elections

New record low of number of lists; Left-Center shrinks from eight lists in 2013 to three today; women’s’ representation continues to dither – less than 30 women MKs are expected

Israeli Voters, Not Judges, Must Determine Who Will Lead the Country Next

Israel is gearing up for its third national elections in less than a year - how does this compare to other democracies around the world?

Tomorrow, Gantz's mandate to form a government will end, and we are expected to enter an unparalleled stage in Israel - 21 days, during which a majority of Knesset members, at least 61, are allowed to ask the president to assign the mandate to anyone of the 120 MKs. 

The final results of the third election are in and Israel is in very much the same stalemate position as the previous two rounds - is a minority government the solution?

Assaf Shapira argues that if the choice is between a minority government and another round of elections, the former is the better option.

While we cannot know for sure if Benny Gantz will succeed where Benjamin Netanyahu has failed, we can state with certainty that our political system of the past year has been characterized by deadlock, and this is not expected to end in the near future.

The strangest and most polarizing election in Israel’s history is now over. The people have spoken, and we’re now entering the next stage of the political lifecycle: forming a new government. What are the rules governing this process, and what can be learned from a historical and comparative perspective?


After an unprecedented second round of elections - the final outcome is still unclear. We’re now entering the next stage of the political lifecycle: coalition negotiations - Dr. Kenig explains what’s next

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 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.

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

A trustworthy and independent Central Elections Committee is essential for the holding of truly democratic elections – that is why a reform is overdue

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

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.


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

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


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.

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


“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.


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.

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. 

"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.

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

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

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

The danger of a weak opposition should not be underestimated. This situation harms most of all those populations who are not represented in government, and even harms the functioning of the government itself, which is not subjected to real criticism


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.

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.

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. 

Dr. Ofer Kenig discusses the multiple ways in which the United States has facilitated the voting process in order to improve voter turnout, and suggests that Israel adopt a number of these innovations. This op-ed originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post

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.

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.

Research Reel with Professor Gidon Rahat - The Personalization of Politics

Research Reel with Dr. Guy Lurie - The Role of the Attorney General

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%).

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%). 

A discussion of the principal issues pertaining to campaign financing in Israel, written before the Knesset elections of 2015. 

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.

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.

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.

"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.

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.

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. 

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?

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

A video in which IDI researchers discuss some of the pros and cons of the Governance Bill being considered by the Knesset. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.  

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.


Election Results - How Are Votes Translated to Knesset Seats?

November 09, 2022

Despite a clear majority of seats in the Knesset for Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition, the number of votes cast in the 2022 elections in Israel was almost equal between the factions. How is this possible?
Israel's electoral process is one of proportional representation and includes a 3.25% threshold. Find out what role this played in determining election results and how it differs from the American electoral college system.


Vocational Training

August 26, 2019

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.

The Personalization of Politics

July 19, 2016

Research Reel with Professor Gidon Rahat - The Personalization of Politics

The Role of the Attorney General

July 03, 2016

Research Reel with Dr. Guy Lurie - The Role of the Attorney General