Elections and Parties

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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.

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? 

In a Jerusalem Post op-ed, Yohanan Plesner notes that the 2015 Knesset election demonstrates that structural changes matter, and argues that further stability can be fostered by automatically making the head of the largest party prime minister.

"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.

Israeli journalist Yair Lapid's announced intention to enter politics sparked both excitement and speculation as to whether he planned to start his own party or to join one of the existing parties. While IDI Former President and Founder Dr. Arye Carmon applauds the entrance of talented, committed people into politics, he stresses the need for them to join one of the large, existing parties in order to stabilize the political system. 

IDI Researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig surveys the percentage of women in the Israeli cabinet since the founding of the State and calls for a change for the better.

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.

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.  

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

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

Party primaries, though a vital component of the Israeli electoral system, receive little attention from the media and the voting public. In an interview originally published prior to the Israeli general elections in 2006, Dr. Gideon Rahat of the Political Science Department at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, today a Senior Researcher at IDI, discusses the candidate selection process within Israel's political parties and explores the pros and cons of local and international models.

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.

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 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.

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. 

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.

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.

On November 10, 2012, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the Israeli prime minister who has served the second longest cumulative term. Dr. Ofer Kenig explores Netanyahu's placement between record-holder David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Shamir.

Following the elections of 2013, IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern hails the incoming Knesset as a unique opportunity to change the nature of the State of Israel so that it is both more Jewish and more democratic at the same time. 

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.

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

IDI President Yohanan Plesner recommends a change of approach and some practical steps for changing the reality in which the Israeli public repeatedly goes to the polls to elect a new Knesset before the previous Knesset has finished its term.

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.

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 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.

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. 

As Israel approaches the election of its 10th president, Dr. Ofer Kenig surveys the results of past presidential elections and asserts that although the role of the Israeli president is largely ceremonial, the race for the position is partisan and political. 

Dr. Ofer Kenig presents some of the milestones in the career of Ariel Sharon, the 11th Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

Will Shelly Yachimovich manage to succeed where others have failed and maintain her position as chair of the Labor Party for a second term? Dr. Ofer Kenig shares insights on the upcoming primaries for the party leadership.

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.

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.

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

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

As the Central Elections Committee begins to debate disqualifying MK Hanin Zoabi and others from running for Knesset, IDI Senior Fellow Ami Ayalon writes that as distasteful as some of her words may be, banning Zoabi from running would be a victory for Israel's detractors.

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?

IDI researcher Attorney Amir Fuchs asserts that the only way for Israel to ensure good governance is by adopting a constitution.

Prof. Tamar Hermann, head of IDI's Guttman Center for Surveys, discusses the findings of the 2013 Israeli Democracy Index, which was submitted to President Shimon Peres on October 6, 2013.

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

Prof. Yedidia Stern urges Israel's leaders to stop tiptoeing around the core issues of religion and state in the Knesset election campaign, and to take a clear position on the matter.

In an op-ed in <em>Haaretz</em>, Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer discusses government corruption in Israel and the implications of the Holyland verdict for deterring such corruption in the future.

Prof. Yedidia Stern shares thoughts on the connection between failure of the ultra-Orthodox "Tov" party in the local elections, the Haredi draft bill being debated by the Shaked Committee, and Newton's laws of motion.

In an op-ed in Maariv, IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer calls for an election campaign that focuses not only on foreign policy and Israel's social gap, but on the nature of Israeli identity and the value of Israeli democracy itself.

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.