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Israel's dysfunctional politics pose a direct threat to the future of the state

Between 2003 and 2015 there were five national elections in Israel. That number is not unusual for a parliamentary democracy, where who forms government is decided by which party or coalition of parties can command a majority in the legislature, while states that use a presidential system tend to have longer, fixed terms. However between 2019 and 2022 Israel also had five elections, including two in 2019 separated by just five months. The most recent election, in November 2022, produced yet another weak and fractious six party coalition that seems unlikely to last. Indeed, some analysts are predicting another election within the next year. What has happened to the country that a stable government that lasts a full term now seems like a thing of the past?

There is a large body of political science research dedicated to examining how differing electoral systems, that is how votes cast translate into seats won by parties and candidates, affect government outcomes. To complicate the already complex, there are almost infinite variables at play. From the type of system – parliamentary or presidential, the party system – two longstanding parties or one in constant flux with parties emerging and then declining, to the number of elected entities – a single national parliament such as in Israel or both a legislative and presidential system combined as in the United States, and so on. What is most important to understand is that these electoral mechanisms have real world consequences for the political culture, security and even stability of any democracy. To pick an obvious example: without the anachronism of the United States Electoral College, Donald Trump would never have become US president.