Democratizing Party Leadership Selection in Israel: A Balance Sheet

in Israel Studies Review
Author: Ofer Kenig
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The selection methods of party leaders in Israel have gone through a gradual shift during the last 30 years. Like parties in several other democracies (Canada, United Kingdom, Japan), the major Israeli parties have changed their internal distribution of power to give their members a role in candidate and leadership selection. In Israel, as elsewhere, among the reasons for this reform was the desire to reduce the oligarchic tendencies of parties by creating a participatory revolution and by providing the rank-and-file members a chance to make a difference. This study maps the various methods used by Israeli parties for selecting their leaders and asks what the positive and negative consequences of the opening of the selection process are. The first section presents the various methods used by parties for selecting their leaders. The following three sections deal with the gradual process of democratization in leadership selection that occurred in the two major Israeli parties, and in other parties. The final section discusses the consequences of this democratization and tries to assess whether there is an ideal method for selecting party leaders.

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