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.
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.
Victor Adefemi Isumonah
This chapter discusses the power of indigeneity in citizenship determination in Nigeria. It grants political economy a role but rejects the denial of culture an independent status in citizenship determination. It shows that cultural nationalism retains independence and supremacy over political economy in citizenship determination in Nigeria because the ethnic question is posed as the principal contradiction. Citizenship is cast as ethnic justice based on the equation of individual rights with group rights and in turn with social justice in, ironically, individual-focused distributive system. The power of culture in citizenship determination finds expression in partial and inclusive concepts of indigeneity. The partial concept disenfranchises on a small scale in local and smaller constituencies while the inclusive concept disenfranchises on a bigger scale by denying several groups access to presidential office, effectively watering down Nigeria’s constitutional status of republic.
Israel’s constitutional setting and “unwritten” constitution have evolved over the years, influenced by actions of the Supreme Court of Israel and the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Israel’s constitutional status, with its constitutional structure not formally entrenched in writing, leaves many specific principles of the constitution and their impact more uncertain in many cases than might be the case if there were a more formalized, “written” constitution, something to which Israel committed itself almost seven decades ago. Structures of the constitution, including the Basic Laws, are constitutional but are not the same as having a constitution, and this situation leaves the proper role of the Supreme Court in Israel open to debate. The constitutional system has direct and clear influence over the operation of day-to-day politics and affects a wide range of political and structural factors in the Israeli political world.
Although one may expect that democratic transitions lead to improvements in women’s rights based on citizens’ access to democratic policy processes, meaningful policy changes to improve Nigerian women’s daily lives and representation have not been forthcoming or adequate. Since Nigeria’s transition to democracy, an unfavorable interpretation of its “federal principle” has trumped women’s rights, despite a new constitution that prohibits discrimination based on sex. This chapter argues that women’s movements and feminist allies should target Nigeria’s thirty-seven subnational governments to deepen democracy. This decentralized approach should include the creation of effective “gender policy trifectas,” which fit with Nigeria’s national and international commitments to gender equality. An increased and strategic focus on the subnational level should improve women’s descriptive and substantive representation at the subnational and national levels and strengthen Nigeria’s women’s movements, which are critical to achieving meaningful policy changes for Nigerian women, men, and children.