Elections in Israel 1999, The
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: State University of New York Press
THE ELECTIONS IN ISRAEL 1999
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The 1999 elections, held on May 17, 1999, featured two parallel races. One was for the office of the prime minister, and the second was for the Knesset (Israeli Parliament). This was the second time that the rules for the simultaneous direct election of the prime minister and the selection of the Knesset based on a fixed-list proportional representation formula applied. The change in the electoral system was legislated before the 1992 elections, ...
Part I: Voting Behavior
1. Candidates, Parties, and Blocs
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Political scientists who study elections resort to two major concepts useful in sorting out elections and interpreting electoral dynamics: partisan realignment and dealignment (Dalton, Flanagan, and Beck 1984). A realignment is electoral change that persists. It is characterized by “more or less profound readjustments . . . in the relations of power within the community, and in . . . new and durable election groupings. . . .” (Key 1955, 4). A partisan ...
2. Were Voters Strategic?
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Multicandidate contests always provide the opportunity for strategic voting, and the Israeli prime ministerial election began as a five-candidate contest. But of the five candidates approved by the Central Elections Committee, only three had any chance of winning: Benjamin Netanyahu, the incumbent prime minister who led Likud, Ehud Barak, the head of One Israel, and Yitzhak Mordechai, leader of the newly formed Center Party. For most voters ...
3. Split-ticket Voting in the 1996 and 1999 Elections
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Split-ticket voting in Israel’s general elections is a relatively new phenomenon that came about after the reform of the general elections system and after the 1996 transition to direct election of the prime minister. Before the general elections system reform, the ticket splitting discused in Israel’s research literature focused on one of two phenomena. The first referred to ticket splitting at the municipal and national levels ...
4. Social Cleavages among non-Arab Voters: A New Analysis
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This chapter takes issue with the authoritative literature on the politics of social cleavages in Israel. It presents the results of three different types of empirical analysis of partisan choice among non-Arab voters in Israel.1 Using methods and data that have rarely or never been exploited in Israel, as well as modified versions of the standard multivariate analysis of survey data, we offer an empirical reassessment of voter behavior that departs substantially ...
Part II: Groups
5. The Continuing Electoral Success of Shas: A Cultural Division of Labor Analysis
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As far as Shas was concerned, the election campaign to the Fifteenth Knesset was conducted under the shadow of the conviction and then the sentencing of the party’s political leader, Aryeh Deri, for bribery charges (Bilsky, 2001). In spite of these events, or perhaps because of them, Shas succeeded in raising its Knesset delegation from ten to seventeen members and became one of the three largest (albeit medium-size) factions in the house.
6. Israel as an Ethnic State: The Arab Vote
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Arab citizens comprise about 11 percent of the Israeli electorate—a substantial bloc in terms of its latent potential, especially for the Israeli Left, which cannot gain power without Arab votes. Preparations for the elections among the Arabs began as soon as the motion was passed to bring forward the elections to the Fifteenth Knesset to May 1999, some eighteen months before they were due. As in the past, the election campaign was a stormy arena of ...
7. The “Russian” Revolution in Israeli Politics
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Between 1989 and 1999, more than three quarters of a million people from lands that comprised the former Soviet Union (FSU) immigrated to Israel. This is the single largest aliyah in Israeli history. Ironically, it comes from a state that consistently opposed Zionism, armed and supported the Arab states and Palestinian military organizations, broke relations with Israel in 1967, and refused to allow Zionist and Hebrew education. Over the last three Israeli ...
Part III: Political Parties and the Election Campaign
8. The Triumph of Polarization
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At the beginning of 1999, the future looked bright for the new Israeli Center Party. According to opinion polls, party leader Yitzhak Mordechai was the only candidate who could defeat the Likud leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in head-to-head elections. The party called on Labor voters to desert the Labor candidate, Ehud Barak, and to unite behind Mordechai. As for the party itself, this group of well-known political figures, who had left ...
9. Barak, One—One Israel, Zero, Or, How Labor Won the Prime Ministerial Race and Lost the Knesset Elections
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Ehud Barak’s three-year political drive against the incumbent, Benjamin Netanyahu, was successfully translated into victory in the May 1999 election. Labor on the other hand, the party he chaired since 1997 (and that ran under the banner of One Israel), was not as successful. It lost close to 30 percent of its power, obtaining only 26 seats in the Fifteenth Knesset—the lowest number of representatives ever. Postelection, while still the largest party and the ...
10. The Likud’s Campaign and the Headwaters of Defeat
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The elections of 1999 dealt the Likud so stunning a blow that to describe it critics had recourse to natural calamities such as volcanic eruptions, or disasters like being run over by an express train. While Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid for reelection ended in a landslide defeat, the party’s share of the vote was reduced by almost 44%, thereby breaking the 1977 record held by Labor when its share was reduced by 37.88%. Several explanations were offered, one that ...
11. The Appearance of the Center Party in the 1999 Elections
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The Center Party, established shortly before the 1999 elections, reflected changes in Israeli politics relating to both the political party and the party system and to the electoral competition in Israel. The formation of this party exemplified the perennial temptation to establish a party of the center and the special problems involved in that undertaking, as well as the difficulties in setting up a new party in Israel, despite the openness of the proportional system in the Knesset elections.
12. Candidate Selection in a Sea of Changes Unsuccessfully Trying to Adapt?
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The methods political parties use to select their candidates may be analyzed from two perspectives. The first considers these methods as a dependent variable that reflects a party’s response to changes in the political environment within which it operates. Manifested in changes to their candidate selection methods, this response implies an attempt to adapt to a changing political, social, and institutional environment.
13. Struggles Over the Electoral Agenda: The Elections of 1996 and 1999
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One of the important aspects of modern politics is the struggle over the news media. The news media serve as the central arena for antagonists to promote their political positions and preferred images (Wolfsfeld 1997). This contest becomes especially intensive during election campaigns as each candidate and/or political party attempts to dominate the media agenda. Candidates want to pull their opponents onto the political battlefield where they have the greatest advantages.
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Page Count: 303
Illustrations: 33 tables, 6 figures
Publication Year: 2002
Series Title: SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Series Editor Byline: Russell Stone