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Maoz Rosenthal

abstract

Parliaments channel legislation efforts and oversight functions to parliamentary committees in order for them to transform policy ideas into agreed-upon policies and then monitor their implementation. Committees play a major role in the policymaking process when they possess agenda-setting powers over the bills they process and through their employment of oversight capacities. The rules that construct checks and balances between the government and Israel’s Knesset potentially minimize the Knesset committees’ agenda-setting influence. Nevertheless, Knesset committee chairs strategically use their institutional powers to affect committee deliberations through bargaining and dynamic agenda setting. Consequently, Knesset committees play a major role in the policy process due to bargaining rather than through institutional rules.

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David Nachmias, Maoz Rosenthal, and Hani Zubida

While national government elections are perceived as first order institutions that result in relatively high turnout rates, local elections are viewed as second-order institutions and are usually characterized by low turnout rates. We claim that this behavior is conditioned by the stakes that voters associate with elections as well as the voters' relative position in the socio-ethnic stratification structure. In this article we show that such conditions may yield an inversion in voters' perspectives. In other words, voters who are alienated from national government institutions and who are effectively mobilized by leaders of their socio-ethnic groups, which have high stakes in second-order institutions, tend to invert their preference with regard to the significance of elections. In such instances, national elections become second-order elections, and local elections become first-order elections. We use ballot-box level data from two national and two local elections in Israel to test this theory.