Party Hopping in Israel: An Assessment of the Impact of Anti-Defection Laws

Thursday 3 March

About the Seminar:

Since 1991, Israel has been among the small number of parliamentary democracies that have passed anti-defection laws that aim to discourage parliamentarians from quitting their party’s parliamentary group. In this talk, I assess the impact of the Israeli legislation on political parties and the electoral process. My central finding is that legislative attempts to keep Israeli parties united have by and large failed: the overall rate of defections has increased since the law came into effect and political parties have become increasingly less rather than more cohesive and united. Moreover, since defections have been concentrated in the immediate pre-electoral period they have led to more volatility and fragmentation in the electoral competition. I propose that electoral reform may be a more effective, although indirect, way of keeping defections at bay.

Csaba Nikolenyi

About the Speaker:

Csaba Nikolenyi received his PhD from the University of British Columbia in 2000 and was hired by Concordia University the same year. His research focuses on the comparative study of political parties, electoral systems and legislatures in post-communist democracies as well as on the political systems of Israel and India. He was former English Co-Editor of the Canadian Journal of Political Science (2006-11). He served as Code Administrator in the Faculty of Arts and Science between 2009 and 2011 and as Chair of the Department of PoliticalScience between 2011 and 2014. Currently, he is the Director of the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies. Dr. Nikolenyi has published extensively in comparative politics journals and has authored two books: Minority Government in India (Routledge 2010) and Institutional Design and Party Government in Post-Communist Democracies (Oxford University Press, 2014). He was Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2007-8) and at the Centre for European Studies at the Australian National University (2012).