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.
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.
Reuven Y. Hazan
Both the parties and the party system of Israel have undergone significant changes during the last seventy years. This chapter begins by delineating the transformation of the political parties in Israel, from classic mass parties to a plethora of types that coexist somewhat uneasily, and from parties focused on domestic socioeconomic issues to ones dominated by foreign policy and security concerns. It then shifts to its main focus, assessing the changes in the party system. The chapter argues two points: first, that while the Israeli parties were extremely volatile, the party blocs were surprisingly stable; and second, that while the Israeli party system exhibited two very stable periods during the first fifty years—albeit with a short, transformative interim phase—during the last twenty years it has exhibited accelerated change and instability.
Israel has experienced both failed and successful attempts to reform its democratic institutions in the seventy years since its founding. The most noteworthy failure has been in the promotion of much-needed electoral reform that would moderate the “extreme” features of the hyper-representative, party-centered electoral system. Successes range from small modifications of the electoral system to wide-ranging reforms of the government system at the local and national levels and within political parties. These reforms injected doses of majoritarianism and personalism into the system. But they did not help to solve the problems in the functioning of the Israeli regime; in fact, they often made them worse.
Analyzed in the context of the protracted sharia crisis that dominated Nigeria’s fourth attempt at civil democratic government (the Fourth Republic), this chapter provides historical, political, and constitutional context for the challenges posed by expanded sharia to modern governance in Nigeria. Drawing on a distinctive interdisciplinary perspective that engages entrenched traditional structures in Muslim Northern Nigeria, the chapter underscores the challenges of modern governance in this critical region of the country. Specifically, the chapter discusses how the expanded sharia policies of twelve northern Nigerian Muslim states are not only embedded in Islamic structures, practices, doctrines, and discourse in the region, but also reflect fierce contestations for state power among Nigeria’s ethno-regional political classes. Finally, the chapter analyzes the implications of expanded sharia for Nigeria’s modern constitutional development that seek to advance liberal traditions such as civil rights, state rights, freedom of religion, and secularism.
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.