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Article: Party Switching in Israel: Understanding the Split of the Labor Party in 2011

Author: Csaba Nikolenyi


In January 2011, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak issued a surprising announcement to take four other members of his Labor Party’s Knesset faction with himself to set up a new political party, Haatzmaut (Independence). The conditions under which this split took place illustrate the ways in which the Israeli anti-defection law, passed in the 12th Knesset, incentivizes the behavior of elected legislators who seek to exit from the party that they were elected to represent. This article shows that the anti-defection law cannot keep a legislative party together that suffers from weak internal cohesion. In fact, by imposing numerical criterion (1/3) on prospective party switchers, the anti-defection law prolongs internal disunity, thereby further weakening an already low level of cohesion.

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Pp. 408–422