Trial and error: Electoral reform through bypass and its repeal

Gideon Rahat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The 1990s saw the adoption and abolition of two institutional reforms in Israel: party primaries and the direct elections for prime minister. Both were intended to solve problems related to the country's extreme proportional and partisan electoral system- governability and accountability. This paper analyses the dynamics of the processes that led to the abolition of both reforms. In the first case, what led the parties Likud and Meretz to repeal primaries after using this candidate selection method only one single time? In the second, how did the opponents of direct elections for prime minister-who failed in their attempts to block its adoption- succeed in repealing it ten years after its adoption and five years after its implementation? The paper claims that while the reforms of the 1990s failed, the problems that they tried to address remain. These need to be resolved directly, via reform of the electoral system rather than through bypasses-the reforms from 'above' (direct elections) and those from below' (party primaries).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)103-117
Number of pages15
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008


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