Country Listing

Israel Table of Contents



The structural crisis facing the Israeli political system has been attributed to a number of factors. Such factors include the absence of a written constitution that provides for the separation of state and religion and safeguards the rights of the individual. Another factor often cited is the country's inability to form effective coalition governments and cabinets--a phenomenon caused by a breakdown of the dominant party system and the resulting inability of any one major party to garner a parliamentary majority. As a consequence, in forming coalitions each major party has had to depend heavily on smaller parties bent on promoting their own narrow interests.

Various reforms have been proposed to blunt the disruptive role of minor parties. One suggestion is to change the electoral system of pure proportional representation, raising the minimum percentage threshold required to obtain a Knesset seat. One of the most comprehensive studies of this problem, The Political System in Israel: Proposals for Change, edited by Baruch Zisar, argues that the negative features of the Israeli electoral system have so far outweighed its positive attributes. The study concludes that individual district constituencies may offer Israel the best form of electoral representation.

Following the stalemated results of the November 1988 Knesset elections, a committee composed of representatives of the two major parties was set up to study changes in the proportional representation system. In a newspaper interview, Shimon Peres admitted that "The democratic system in Israel has reached a point in which it has begun to be ineffective and a change is demanded in the electoral system."

Data as of December 1988