The Elections in Israel 1996

Edited by Asher Arian & Michal Shamir

Subjects: Israel Studies
Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies
Paperback : 9780791442388, 318 pages, July 1999
Hardcover : 9780791442371, 318 pages, July 1999

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Table of contents

Asher Arian and Michal Shamir

Part One
Politics of Identity

Elections As a Battleground over Collective Identity
Baruch Kimmerling

Collective Identity in the 1996 Election
Michal Shamir and Asher Arian

Religion and the Politics of Inclusion: The Success of the Ultra-Orthodox Parties
Gideon Doron and Rebecca Kook

The Odd Group Out: The Arab-Palestinian Vote in the 1996 Elections
Ilana Kaufman and Rachel Israeli

Determining Factors of the Vote among Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union
Tamar Horowitz

"Old" versus "New" Politics in the 1996 Elections
Yael Yishai

Part Two
Political Reform, Parties, Candidates

The Electoral Consequences of Political Reform: In Search of the Center of the Israeli Party System
Reuven Y. Hazan

The Likud's Double Campaign: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Jonathan Mendilow

Peres the Leader, Peres the Politician
Michal Yaniv

The Party Primaries and Their Political Consequences
Gideon Rahat and Neta Sher-Hadar

The Bias of Pluralism: The Redistributive Effects of the New Electoral Law
David Nachmias and Itai Sened

Balance in Election Coverage
Asher Arian, Gabriel Weimann, and Gadi Wolfsfeld


Leading American and Israeli social scientists discuss the precedent-setting events of Israel’s 1996 elections.


Leading social scientists from Israeli and American universities, using different methods and representing diverse intellectual traditions, address the precedent-setting events of Israel's 1996 elections. The contributors discuss the meaning of collective identity, the role of religion and nationalism in modern Israel, the political behavior of Israeli Arabs, the secrets of success of the immigrant party. Also discussed are issues such as the impact of the direct election law on party organization, primaries and coalition-formation calculations, the repeated electoral failure of Shimon Peres, and the role of the media in the election campaign.

The 1996 elections in Israel represented a "first" in Israeli politics in many ways. For the first time Israelis directly elected their prime minister and, in simultaneous but separate elections, they elected their 120-member Knesset (parliament). Also, it was the first time that elections were held after the mutual recognition of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization following the Oslo accords and it was the first election held after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rubin.

The political parties made widespread use of primaries in 1996, and hundreds of thousands of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union cast their first ballots. The large support for a party supported by former-Soviet immigrants highlighted the emergence of sectarian interests. This was also expressed in the surge for the two Arab parties from five seats in 1992 to nine seats in 1996, and for the three Jewish religious parties whose combined representation grew from 16 to 23 seats.

Asher Arian is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, a senior research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, and Professor of Political Science at the University of Haifa. Michal Shamir is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tel Aviv University. Both edited The Elections in Israel 1992, also published by SUNY Press.


"…a significant reference tool for anyone interested in Israeli politics." — Jewish Book World