Objective: Under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud—Israel's most successful political party in the past 50 years—transformed from a highly institutionalized leader party into a personal party. This study explores the personalization of Likud and its various manifestations and analyses the causes of this process and its consequences. Methods: A case study. Both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Results: Although the Likud party leader's formal roles, powers, and authorities did not change significantly, many informal developments enhanced the firm grip Netanyahu held on the party. Netanyahu manipulated leadership contests, and they became uncompetitive; the party's internal institutions were almost nullified and became no more than a rubber stamp to Netanyahu's interests; and Likud's representatives in the Knesset were transformed into a group of submissive cheerleaders. Conclusions: We conclude that essential, routinized procedures within Likud were abandoned in favor of personalization of decision making; the “value” of the party organization was replaced with that of a single leader as perceived by important internal party actors and the electorate; and that other parties perceived Likud as personalized. On all fronts, the Likud underwent a personalization process. Moreover, the personalization of Likud, the ruling party, contributed to Israel's democratic backsliding.
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© 2023 The Authors. Social Science Quarterly published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Southwestern Social Science Association.