Emanuele Ottolenghi

Sopravvivere senza governare: l'elezione diretta del primo ministro in Israele

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Following a protracted period of political paralysis, in March 1992 Israel's parliament adopted a new and original institutional reform meant to address the political system's shortcomings - mainly a fragmented party system where small parties were viewed to hold excessive power and where government coalitions were ineffective and costly. The new system - adopted in 1996 and repealed in March 2001 - introduced the direct election of the Prime minister alongside general parliamentary elections whose voting system remained unchanged. This article discusses the nature of the Israeli reform, its impact on Israel's political system as well as the reasons that ultimately led to its early demise. In particular, the article documents how certain shortcomings in the reform - the use of a double ballot, the possibility of by-elections for the Prime minister only, the persistence of the confidence vote and the parliamentary power to vote early dissolution - led to split ticket, party fragmentation, unworkable coalitions, government paralysis and frequent early elections. A discussion of the system's performance in the period 1996-2001 helps clarify why it failed to achieve its goals and why it was replaced with a slightly modified version of the old system in place before 1996.


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