Toyin Falola and Matthew Heaton
This chapter examines the transformations brought about by British colonial rule in Nigeria, which began with the annexation of Lagos in 1861 and ended with the independence of Nigeria on October 1, 1960. Colonial rule transformed political, economic, social, and cultural dynamics among indigenous peoples. Indirect rule bound “traditional” rulers to British authority. The economy became increasingly dependent on exports. European education created a middle class of Nigerian civil servants and social activists both indebted to the colonial project and resistant to its racialist underpinnings. Resistance to colonial rule took a number of forms, incrementally moving Nigeria toward independence. However, decolonization also brought regionalization and a hardening of ethnic identities. British colonialism created Nigeria, but did little to make it a viable, stable, self-sustaining national entity. The historiography of colonial rule in Nigeria has been shaped by efforts to grapple with the antecedents of postcolonial crisis.
Can Israel be both Jewish and democratic? If Jewishness is seen properly as ethnicity, Israeli democracy should be judged by the same standards as other nation-states. The Jewish community in Palestine, and later Israel, faced serious objective difficulties in democratization but drew on a traditional Jewish politics that emphasized voluntary consent and inclusion. Standard rankings of states on a democracy scale have consistently classified Israel as a democracy, if sometimes a flawed one. The relative weaknesses of this democracy, in both external and internal analysis, appear in freedom of expression, freedom of association, equality before the law, and judicial constraints on the executive. In practice, most of these problem areas are related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the status of Israel’s Arab citizens.
Carl Levan and Abiodun Ajijola
A large body of research examines questions relating to the quality of Nigeria’s elections, focusing on the mechanisms of fraud, the likelihood of violence, or the virtues of administrative reform. After briefly summarizing these issues, this chapter focuses on important reforms contained in a 2010 electoral reform law, such as new rules pertaining to party primaries and requirements to post electoral results at the polling unit level. It then asks why these reforms passed. Most explanations focus on the change of leadership in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). However, the chapter points to reform-minded coalitions in the National Assembly that emerged during presidential leadership crises in 2006 and 2010, as well as important shifts within civil society that increased INEC’s operational latitude and provided political “cover” from partisan interference. The complementary convergence of a coalition for reform inside government and a constituency for reform outside government, were critical to the successful conduct of the 2011 and 2015 elections.
Matthew S. Shugart
The electoral system of Israel is an “extreme” example of proportional representation because of its use of a single nationwide district. This feature has been a constant since 1949, while secondary features, such as legal thresholds and the proportional seat-allocation formula, have changed and had an impact on degrees of proportionality. The party system is highly fragmented, as expected in extreme proportional systems. By applying the Seat Product Model to indices of election outcomes, it is possible to determine whether Israel’s system is more or less fragmented and proportional than expected for its institutional design. This chapter reports that the long-term average outputs are about as expected, but they have fluctuated over time. Some of these fluctuations reflect changes in the secondary features of the system, while others are the results of political factors independent of the institutions.
As in other parliamentary democracies, the Israeli government is dependent on the confidence of parliament. Israel is a country with a diverse society, divided by multidimensional political issues and using a proportional representation electoral system. It is therefore not surprising to find a multiparty system with a highly fragmented parliament. This setting produces the central institutional feature of its executive branch: coalition politics. This chapter outlines the process of cabinet formation and the types of coalitions formed, presents an overview of the position of the prime minister, describes the work and structure of cabinet ministers and ministries, explains why governments seldom complete a full term, and assesses claims about both instability and nongovernability in Israel.
The chapter examines the crises that triggered the collapse of the colonially imposed parliamentary system in Nigeria. The parochial nature of regional structures and the fragility of party institutions heightened mutual suspicion, disenchantment, and violence among different segments of the country. This led to military intervention through coups and counter coups, which then ordained the adoption of a presidential system in 1979, 1989, and 1999. This was based on the assumption that presidentialism facilitates national integration. Two of the presidential arrangements (1979) and (1989) collapsed and the relative stability achieved in the Fourth Republic is again being undermined by the growing culture of executive dominance. Evidence exists that the executive treats the legislature and judiciary as subordinate rather than co-equal branches of government. The overbearing powers of the presidency undermines checks and balances and the preponderance of executive dominance in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic suggests that Nigeria is drifting dangerously towards hyper-presidentialism.
Menachem Hofnung and Mohammed S. Wattad
The contemporary perception of Israel’s judiciary as an independent branch does not coincide with Israel’s first government’s perception after establishing the first Supreme Court. To a great extent the executive branch deemed the court its long arm. Until the mid-1950s judges were appointed by the government, and questions of conflicts of interest and political affiliation—in the wide sense of the term—were not compelling. However, since the 1990s the court’s power of judicial review and the legitimacy of its decisions have become issues of heated public debate. Consequently the process of appointing justices to the court has become subject to very strict public and political scrutiny. This chapter asks whether the Israeli judiciary truly constitutes a third independent branch of government. This is relevant considering the continuous attempts to change the existing balance of power, aiming to limit the court’s capacity to apply universal judicial doctrines and legal standards to executive and legislative decisions.
Since May 1999, the Nigerian judiciary has increasingly been called upon to play a more critical role in interpreting the constitution, ensuring the enforcement of the rule of law and the protection of civil liberties. During this period, Nigerian society has also been confronting serious problems concerning ethnic tensions, endemic corruption, and a weak and oil-dependent economy. The judiciary itself has had to contend with serious problems of its own, including corruption amongst some of its judges. This chapter examines how the judiciary, even while dealing with serious challenges of its own, has been able to play an important role in resolving the disputes within Nigeria’s unfolding democratic experience.
Chen Friedberg and Reuven Y. Hazan
The Knesset is the legislative body of Israel, which has been a parliamentary, unitary democracy since its foundation. It is a unicameral parliament, elected through a proportional election system that to a great extent reflects Israeli society. Because there is no written constitution, the Knesset alone delineates the three branches of government. On top of its legislative role, the Knesset also oversees the executive branch, handles political conflicts, and is in charge of decision-making. Although it is the main source of all political power in Israel and appears strong on paper, it operates under structural, legal, procedural, and historical constraints. The result is a relatively weak legislative branch in practice, in some roles more so than in others.
The performance of the Nigerian National Assembly in the Fourth Republic has been profoundly ambivalent and contradictory. On one hand, the assembly has passed significant constitutional amendments and electoral reforms, curbed executive abuses, and functioned as a veritable platform for interethnic negotiation and conciliation. On the other hand, the assembly has often abused or underperformed its core functions of legislation, oversight, representation, and constituency engagement, thereby attracting widespread opprobrium for its ineffectiveness, obstructiveness, venality, and impunity. This chapter discusses the assembly’s conflicted record in terms of a disjuncture between its robust empowerment under the 1999 Constitution and its undermining by the corrupt, prebendal undercurrents of Nigerian political economy. Despite the creativity and relevance of current constitutional debates for reforming and improving the legislature, the pervasive and entrenched nature of prebendal structures are likely to make legislative ambivalence a long-term feature of Nigerian governance and politics.