Will Israel's democratic institutions prove resilient? How is the party system changing and is Israel headed for a tyranny of the majority? Yohanan Plesner, President of the Israel Democracy Institute, examines the ramifications of the unprecedented indictment of an incumbent Prime Minister in Israel
“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
After months of preparation, we are proud to inaugurate, along with the Tel-Aviv-Yafo Municipality, the Democracy Pavilion, celebrating 70 years of Israel’s independence. A unique multi-media experience, in full 360-degree technology, showcasing the values embedded in Israel’s Declaration of Independence and the historic highlights of 70 years of independence.
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.
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.
Some 76 years ago, on August 4, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, one of the most prominent Zionist thinkers and leaders, founder and head of the Revisionist movement, Betar youth group and the Irgun paramilitary organization, died prematurely. It is interesting to explore his views on matters related to democracy and liberalism.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded a visit to East Africa. Uganda is doubly symbolic in collective Jewish-Israeli memory. In 1903, the ‘Uganda proposal’ put the territory forward as a supposedly alternative site for Jewish self-determination; the Zionist Congress rejected it. And Uganda was also the site of the Entebbe raid on 3-4 July 1976, when an Israeli commando squad rescued 103 civilians being held hostage after a plane was hijacked en route from Israel to France.
In Britain, nationwide referendums are a rare event. This development highlights an issue that many of today's democracies are struggling with: the ongoing tension between direct and representative democracy. Is a national referendum a shining example of the democratic ideal put to practice, or does it represents deterioration to cheap populism?
Last week, the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee began deliberating over a proposal that would fundamentally alter the Basic Law – The Knesset: The MK Suspension Bill. If passed, the proposed bill would grant members of Knesset the power to remove another parliamentarian. This op-ed originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post.
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.
IDI President Yohanan Plesner says that even after 20 years, the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin remains the Israeli democracy's breaking point. He calls on all peoples and their leaders to develop a joint democratic vision.
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.
As the world considers the threat of a nuclear Iran, Israeli public discourse has focused primarily on whether or not Israel should launch a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. But who has the authority to decide whether a military operation should be conducted? In this article, IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and researcher Eyal Tsur explore the strengths and weaknesses of the current division of responsibility regarding this matter, and recommend ways of improving the system.
The proposed "Basic Law: Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People" has the support of one third of the members of Knesset. In this op-ed, which was originally published in Hebrew in Yedioth Ahronoth, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern, who is deeply committed to the Jewish nature of the State of Israel, warns that the shift from defining Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state" to a "Jewish state with a democratic regime" is not a semantic shift, but a seismic change.
IDI's international conference "What Do Think Tanks Do?," conducted in May 2011, focused on the role and nature of think tanks in the democratic context. In this article, Dr. Karmit Haber explains the rationale behind the conference and examines the primary roles of think tanks and how they approach a variety of issues.
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.
Dr. Arye Carmon, co-founder and president of the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), discusses how the lack of a constitution is an internal existential threat to Israel. Dr. Carmon's approach is inclusive and integrative, including such remedies as one-ballot elections and a Constitution by Consensus.
Who is addressing the problematic relationship between local and national government in Israel? Is anyone designing a a comprehensive reform program to solve some of the issues that are the result of a malfunctioning system of local governance? How, if at all, does the national media deal with this issue?
Anti-politics is the aversion of citizens to political institutions and elected political figures. In this article, IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Tamar Hermann and IDI researchers Yuval Lebel and Hila Zaban survey different types of anti-politics, distinguish between anti-politics and de-politicization, and present insights about Israeli anti-politics based on the findings of the 2008 Israeli Democracy Index.
In this article, the former Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Public Security debunks the case against the proposed privatization of prisons in Israel. In his opinion, operating a prison under private management is an experiment that can actually improve prison conditions and support prisoners' rights.
Israel's political system is being held hostage by sectorial parties, which promote policies that only serve small interest groups. The annulment of the Kotel compromise, the Sabbath supermarket closure bill, the death penalty for terrorists bill, the so-called "Litzman Law" – are all products of a system that weakens the governing party and incentivizes political extortion. We must take control of our fate. Now is the time to empower our representatives to act on behalf of the national interest.
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.
With the featured participation of: Bank of Israel Governor, Education Minister, Economy Minister, Director-General of the Finance Ministry, Director-General of the Prime Minister Office, Chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation, Director-General of Bank Leumi, Director General of Microsoft Israel and other VIPs
Top Israeli economist, Professor Eytan Sheshinski, has joined IDI as a senior researcher in the Center for Governance and the Economy, under the leadership of Dafna Aviram-Nitzan.