1st Edition

The Elections in Israel, 2019–2021

Edited By Michal Shamir, Gideon Rahat Copyright 2023
    306 Pages 32 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    306 Pages 32 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The 16th book in The Elections in Israel series, this book covers an extraordinary political event of having four national elections in two years, which were much (but not all) about one person, "King Bibi."

    Analyzing Israel’s national elections from 2019 to 2021, this book argues the four elections became, to a large extent, a referendum on Benjamin Netanyahu, the incumbent prime minister and head of the Likud party, facing investigations, a hearing, and indictment on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Thus, the first part of the book is dedicated to political personalization and to Netanyahu himself. The second part of the volume covers the traditional actors in parliamentary elections: voters, parties, and the mass media. The book relies on empirical analysis, including extensive use of the Israel National Election Studies data; on theoretical rigor; and on the contextualization of the elections from comparative and long-term perspectives.

    The book should interest students and researchers of Israeli politics and society, electoral studies, and the crisis of democracy more generally. Many chapters will be of interest to political science, communications and sociology students and scholars who study themes that are prominent on the academic and public agenda including political personalization and personalized politics, populism, party decline, and democratic backsliding.

    Chapter 8 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons [Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)] 4.0 license.

    List of contributors



    Chapter 1: Four Elections in Two Years: A Unique Crisis or a Sign of Things to Come?

    Michal Shamir and Gideon Rahat

    Chapter 2: The Four Elections 2019-2021: A Chronological Overview

    Gideon Rahat and Michal Shamir

    Part 1: Personalization in the Israeli "parteienstaat"

    Chapter 3: Personalization and Personalism in the 2019-2021 Elections: Another Climax of Personal Politics?

    Gideon Rahat

    Chapter 4: King Bibi: The Personification of Democratic Values in the 2019-2021 Election Cycle

    Liron Lavi, Naama Rivlin-Angert, Clareta Treger, Tamir Sheafer, Israel Waismel-Manor, Michal Shamir

    Chapter 5: A Populist Leader Under Neoliberal Logic

    Avi Shilon

    Chapter 6: Netanyahu and the Very Short History of the "Right Wing Bloc"

    Doron Navot and Yair Goldshmidt

    Chapter 7: Public and Legal Responsibility of Senior Elected Representatives in the Executive Branch: Benjamin Netanyahu as a Case Study

    Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dana Blander

    Part 2: Voters, Parties and the Media

    Chapter 8: Persistent Optimism Under Political Uncertainty: The Evolution of Citizens’ Election Projections During a Protracted Political Crisis

    Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt, Christian Baden, Tali Aharoni, and Maximilian Overbeck

    Chapter 9: Ethnic Demons and Class Specters: Ethnic and Class Voting In Israel Revisited

    Gal Levy, Maoz Rosenthal and Ishak Saporta

    Chapter 10: Joint Lists in Israeli Politics

    Assaf Shapira

    Chapter 11: The Arab Electorate and Parties, 2019-2021: Towards a non-Zionist Israeli Identity?

    Doron Navot, Samer Swaid and Muhamed Khalaily

    Chapter 12: Three in a (Right Wing) Boat: Media, Politicians, and the Public in the Age of Digital Communication

    Alon Zoizner, Keren Tsuriel, Dror Markus, Vered Porzycki, Guy Mor, Avishai Green, Effi Levi, Yariv Tsfati, Israel Waismel-Manor, Tamir Sheafer, Shaul R. Shenhav



    Michal Shamir is the Alvin Z. Rubinstein Professor of Political Science at Tel-Aviv University. Her research focuses on democratic politics, including elections, party systems, public opinion, tolerance, and democratic culture.

    Gideon Rahat is the chair of Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and holds the Gersten Family Chair in Political Science. He is also a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. He has been studying the politics of reform, democratic institutions, political parties, candidate and leadership selection, and political personalization.

    The convoluted spectacle of four Israeli elections within two years poses a forbidding challenge to analysts. In this welcome continuation of The Elections in Israel series, Michal Shamir and Gideon Rahat meet this challenge with resounding success. Not only do the essays in this volume cover the elections themselves authoritatively, but they put this passage of Israeli politics into a data-rich historical and comparative perspective. Of particular note, the elections serve as a laboratory for analysis of the Netanyahu era and the personalization of Israeli politics that it embodies. The book also includes striking insights on challenges to Israeli democracy in the context of worldwide erosion of democracy. This volume should be on the reading list of both experts and casual students of Israeli politics.

    Alan Dowty

    Past President, Association for Israel Studies


    This is the sixteenth volume in the series The Elections in Israel, an impressive academic endeavor initiated by the late Prof. Asher Arian in 1969. The articles in these volumes propose multi-faceted analysis of the political situation, of voting patterns, and central issues that were on the agenda in each election campaign. But, even more so, they document the changes that have taken place in Israeli society, political culture and its characteristics, and in the essence of Israeli democracy.

    These volumes have brought together leading social scientists from Israel and other countries and placed the election results and their analysis under the microscope in order to propose in-depth insights into politics and society in Israel. The latest volume covers the four elections of 2019-2021 which all took place within a two-year span. This was undoubtedly an intellectual and empirical challenge confronting the editors Prof. Michal Shamir and Prof. Gideon Rahat that they have successfully overcome. The final product includes the work of senior and junior scholars highlighting a painful lesson that teaches us much about the fragility of a democracy in crisis, about a divided society, about the radicalization of internal and external conflicts, and about dramatic transformations in Israeli political culture. This is essential reading for all who value democracy and concerned about its future.

    Hanna Herzog

    Professor Emerita, Tel Aviv University, and co-Director of the Center for Advancement of Women in the Public Sphere, Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Jerusalem


    Four elections in two years is an amazing set of circumstances for any polity to weather. Shamir and Rahat have done a wonderful job, taking us through this landscape. They navigate us through the plus ça change of the increasing personalization of elections and plus c’est la même chose of four elections with similar outcomes and traditional bases of campaigning and voting.

    John Aldrich
    Pfizer-Pratt University Professor
    Department of Political Science
    Duke University