Sharon Gilad and Nissim Cohen
Studies of the Israeli public sector point to the vast influence of the Ministry of Finance (MOF) across multiple policy domains. This chapter combines bureaucratic politics research and the notion of veto players to theorize a two-tiered power game between bureaucratic and political players. It argues that the policy influence of bureaucracies is shaped by stable institutional factors and by the extent to which powerful politicians are inclined to intervene. In Israel, legal provisions vest the MOF with an institutional advantage over other bureaus and their ministers. Yet the MOF’s ability to exploit its advantaged position is contingent upon the joint propensity of the prime minister (PM) and the finance minister (FM) to forgo intervention. The chapter associates the PM’s and FM’s inclination to support the MOF with their political motivation to maintain their grip on the agenda of an increasingly fragmented coalition government. Thus, the MOF’s supremacy is reliant upon, and underpins, political power.
A crucial aspect of Nigeria’s political development involves imbibing, nurturing, and sustaining the political institutions and practices it inherited after its independence in 1960. Elections are one of the most important political practices handed down to Nigeria by the British colonialists. This chapter examines the issues and forces that shape efforts to foster the institutions and practice of elections in Nigeria. Based on a survey of elections in Nigeria, the chapter notes that the country’s electoral process is essentially unstable; it then explains why Nigerian elections are volatile, and reviews measures taken to reform the electoral process in Nigeria.
José Ramón Montero and Andrés Santana
The new democratic system established in Spain in the late 1970s has supposed a breakaway from almost two centuries of discontinuity, instability, and fraud. This rupture has not been accidental: it has been favoured by an appropriate electoral system, the moderation of Spanish voters, and the decision of political elites to play potentially destabilizing cleavages down when the new democracy was still in its infancy and the possibility of new spells of instability could not be foreclosed. Social divides have been gradually incorporated as anchors of voting and, together with ideological self-placement, which has played a key role in Spanish elections, and short-term factors, government alternation has taken place in several occasions. In two cases, the 1982 and 2015 elections, electoral earthquakes or realignments did occur, but they have bolstered the legitimacy of the political system instead of menacing it. While the former opened up a different and long-lasting scenario, the consequences of the second one are yet to be devised.
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.
The chapter offers an overview of the main features of executive politics in democratic Spain. Adopting a core executive approach, it focuses on the actors and the processes defining the interaction and the power relationship between the prime minister, the ministers, and the cabinet at the national level. The main argument discusses the ‘presidentialization’ thesis in Spain. Instead, it proposes a more complex dynamics based in the exchange of power resources among actors within the government. Although institutional and political factors – like party politics and the personalization of politics – have favoured the prime minister’s predominance, other factors help to counterbalance this trend with elements of ministerial government. The chapter also discusses the (limited) role of political parties within governments, and the multilevel trend reshaping the nature of the executive in Spain.
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.
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.
Joseph Olayinka Fashagba
This study examines the Nigerian democratic experience and governance in the First and the Second Republics. The First Republic began in 1960 with a parliamentary constitution bequeathed to the country by Britain. Despite the euphoria of independence, the inability of the political elites to manage the inherited system and maintain inter- and intraparty harmony as well as interethnic understanding led to the democratic reversal of 1966. The military and the political elites reached a consensus between 1976 and 1979 on the need to adopt a presidential system which they considered to have the elements to achieve stability. However, the Second Republic which began with the presidential constitution of 1979 collapsed in 1983. This chapter discusses the legislative politics, executive-legislative relations, and the reasons for the collapse of the republics. It argues that the adversarial politics of the ruling elites undermined both the parliamentary and presidential constitutions of the republics respectively.
Mónica Méndez Lago
Using the most relevant indicators highlighted by the literature on party systems, such as the indexes of volatility, fragmentation, and ideological polarization in the electoral–parliamentary arena, this chapter analyses the development of the Spanish party system since the transition to democracy. It focuses on the different stages of its development, marked by the two main transformations it has experienced: the first in the 1982 elections with the collapse of the incumbent party, and, after a long phase of stability, the second transformation in 2014/15 with the emergence of two new national parties onto the electoral and parliamentary arena. One of the key questions the chapter addresses is why a party system that had remained quite stable for more than three decades since 1982, preventing newcomers from coming in, finally gave way to a transformation in the mid-2010s.
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-five years it has exhibited accelerated change and instability.
Adigun Agbaje, Adeolu Akande, and Jide Ojo
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the dominant party in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic since inauguration of the Republic in 1999, found itself out of power and in opposition following its unprecedented defeat in the 2015 presidential and other elections. This chapter examines the background, historical context, nature, and matters arising from this transition of the PDP from ruling to opposition party. It shows how the transition was signposted by a decline in party vision, structure, coherence, performance, and reputation complemented by a gradual consolidation of opposition parties and interests into a single formidable platform, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which successfully wrested power from the PDP in 2015. The chapter demonstrates that impunity embedded in antidemocratic schemes that make party and electoral rules subject to pro-power interpretations while making outcomes predictably pro-dominant power provide only a fragile basis for party rule.
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.