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About this book

This book focuses on the changes currently redefining parties and party systems in Israel and India with regard to parliamentary democracy, coalitional polity, electoral profiles and social diversity. It compares the nature of parties and party systems in Israel and India since their independence and documents how the societies, states and governments have undergone significant transformations during the long course of their existence. In this regard, it also investigates the many significant similarities and glaring differences between India and Israel as two leading parliamentary democracies.

Characterizing the transition of two countries’ party systems as ‘a shift from predominance to pluralism’, the book underlines its impact on the societies, democracies and governance of the two parliamentary nations.

The book combines theoretical underpinnings with an empirical understanding of the subject matter, particularly the parties, leaders, state and g

overnment, pursuing an interdisciplinary approach, which would appeal to a broad readership from academe and industry alike, and a valuable guide for students and scholars of Political Science, Public Administration, Sociology, Governance and Law.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Parties and Party Systems: A Conceptual Framework

Frontmatter

1. Theorizing Parties and Party Systems

From parliamentarism to political organizations, parties and party systems have evolved from the late nineteenth century to the twenty-first-century global world, becoming important catalysts of political change and transformation. While the formation of parties across the globe has followed different patterns, to be characterized by four I’sfour Is—individuals, interests, issues and ideology—party theorization and party model building witnessed new trends to be conceptualized by C5. Despite facing crucial and critical challenges, political parties play a vital role in democratic polities in contemporary times.

Sunil K. Choudhary

2. Locating Israeli and Indian Parties and Party Systems

While the parties and party systems have undergone transformations and witnessed downturns across the globe, the Israeli and the Indian parties and party systems have retained their central place in the parliamentary politics. The competitive electoral politics and the re-alignment of the electorate—characterized as Matz’biya and Matdata in Israel and India, respectively—have necessitated major changes in the ideological postulates and strategic postures of parties in the two nations. One could see perceptible changes in the political platforms of the pan parties in these two parliamentary democracies where centrist orientations have come to guide their policies and programs.

Sunil K. Choudhary

Parties and the State Formation

Frontmatter

3. Yishuv Yishuv : The Pre-state Period in Israel

The State of Israel owes its origin to the Zionist movement, which was the outcome of several waves of immigration called the AliyahAliyah. Reflecting different ideological shades during the pre-independence state – the Yishuv, political parties through Zionist movement paved the way for the emergence of an independent state of Israel in May 1948. State and politics in Israel were broadly influenced by divergent social composition of AliyahAliyah as well as different ideological orientation of political parties that started guiding its destiny in the post-independence era.

Sunil K. Choudhary

4. Indian National Congress: From a ‘Safety ValveSafety Valve ’ to the Political Pioneer of Freedom Struggle

Sharing common culture and history, state formation in India followed similar historical trajectory but different political patterns as that visible in the case of Israel. With the foundation of Indian National Congress in 1885 as political pioneer, the struggle for independence took great momentum. The initiatives and efforts of Moderates, Extremists and Mahatma Gandhi finally facilitated the transition of the nation from a colony to an independent entity in 1947. The constitution-making process in India involving different ideological shades finally presented a consensual model of accommodation and inclusion in 1950.

Sunil K. Choudhary

Parties in the Post-independence Polities: From Predominance to Pluralism

Frontmatter

5. Mapaivot vs Congress System

The post-independence polities in both Israel and India witnessed dominance of the two major political parties of the colonial era—Mapai in Israel, and Indian National Congress in India. The dominance of the two parties came to be described as Mapaivot and Congress SystemCongress System, which remained the dominant characteristics of the first phase of the party system in both the nations. The period was also marked by the alignmentalignment of the voters in the two nations, as the electorate didn’t show any major deviance from their party allegiance in this phase, at least until 1967.The decline of the one-party-dominated system in Israel, or Mapaivot, and the Congress SystemCongress System in India brought about re-alignment of political forces and the electors.

Sunil K. Choudhary

6. Mahapach vs Janata Parivar

The year 1977 witnessed a new and radical transformation in the electoral politics of both Israel and India. It marked the beginning of an alternative party politics, thus challenging the one-party dominance in the two nations. The emergence of Likud in Israel and the Janata Parivar in India challenged the politics of alignment hitherto seen with the parties of dominance—the Mapai/Israeli Labor Party and the Congress—during the founding years. The two-party system, characterized as ‘bi-block polarity’, however, didn’t sustain for long. The decade of the 1980s and onward witnessed the changing forms of alignments, competitive coalitions, new electoral experiences and increasing voting patterns in Israel and India.

Sunil K. Choudhary

7. Toward a Coalitional Multipolarity

Parties and party systems in Israel and India witnessed a significant transformation from one-party-dominated government from 1950s to mid-1970s, to one-party-headed coalitions from late 1980s to the present. The growing presence of a large number of parties and their spirit of working together as indispensable components in coalitional polity foretold the successful story of coalitional experiments of the Israeli and Indian party systems. With the two parliamentary democracies successfully completing their regular national elections (the 20th Knesset in 2015 and the 16th Lok Sabha in 2014), the contemporary phase shows the marked trends toward coalitional multipolarity comprising significant features like realignment of votes, emergence of the silent voters and technology-based competitive electoral politics.

Sunil K. Choudhary

Ideological Roots, Social Bases and Electoral Patterns of the Parties: Exploring Israel and India

Frontmatter

8. The Left-Wing Parties (Socialist Block)

Political parties falling under the left ideological block held decisive influence in the parliamentary politics of both Israel and India. The two dominant parties of the block in the two nations have been the Israeli Labor Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Despite dominating the parliamentary politics for a considerable period, the left in Israel and India witnessed considerable shrinkage in their seats and the voting percentage in recent times. While the Israeli Labor appears to be regaining electoral base by political understandings and alliance with like-minded parties on the one hand and changing its ideological orientation on the issues of security on the other, the Communists in India have been on the verge of extinction.

Sunil K. Choudhary

9. The Right-Wing Parties (Nationalist Block)

Right-wing politics in Israel and India is represented by Likud and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), respectively. The right-wing parties in the two nations have witnessed ideological and political realignments over the years. The changes in the ideological postulates of the two key parties have shown the significant ideological conciliation over the years. Further, as the contemporary electoral politics in both Israel and India have increasingly been gravitated toward coalition, the two main right-wing parties have also shown considerable realignment with the like-minded moderate parties of their respective groups. Other parties of the right-wing block have also remained largely intact with the major pan right parties—Likud and BJP.

Sunil K. Choudhary

10. The Centrist Parties (Centrist Block)

The parties of the Center in both Israel and India have been under major ideological transformation and political churning. Unlike the Indian National Congress, which continued to dominate parliamentary politics for nearly three-quarters, the centrist parties in Israel did not witness consistent and coherent upward turn and registered disappearance from the national scene after short interregnums. Other centrist political parties in India followed the Israeli centrist path and failed to reap rich electoral dividends. Whether the Congress would go the Israeli centrist parties’ way or the Israeli Center would follow the Congress path will be determined by new electoral alignments and ideological transformation in the years to come.

Sunil K. Choudhary

11. The Ethno-Religious Parties (Ethno-Religious Block)

Ethnicity and religiosity constituted important bases of political parties both in Israel and India. National Religious Party and Shas continued to dominate parliamentary politics of Israel and happened to be part of the coalition right from inception. In India, one could also see the increasing role of caste- and community-based parties in federal governance. In fact, the party systems in India from mid-1980s transformed to coalitional polity due to the growing assertion of the caste-, community- and region-based parties. Bahujan Samaj Party in north India, Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab, Rashtriya Lok Dal in Bihar, Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, DMK and AIDMK in Tamil Nadu and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal are some of the examples of strong caste-, community- and region-based parties deciding the fate of Indian federal politics, particularly from 1990s onward.

Sunil K. Choudhary

12. The Arab Parties (Arab Block)

Proportional representation in Israel has ensured participation of the minorities, the Arabs, in the Knesset. The Arabs, constituting 22 per cent of the Israeli population, have become the real beneficiaries of the principle of proportional representation. However, the division of Arabs into different parties has weakened their parliamentary representation by depriving them a decisive say in the parliamentary politics of Israel. However, the increasing electoral threshold from 1 to 3.25 per cent brought about consolidation of the Arab votes as well as unity of the Arab parties, thereby significantly increasing their electoral share in the 2015 Knesset elections. The real challenge for the Arab parties in the parliamentary politics of Israel is how to continue with its united electoral fight democratically by supplementing the Arab interests with the Jewish interests simultaneously.

Sunil K. Choudhary

Parties and the Government Making

Frontmatter

13. Coalition Politics in Israel and India

Both Israel and India have witnessed formation of many coalitions since independence. Coalition has now become the indispensable part of the parliamentary democracies of the two nations. While coalition governments in both the countries increased participation of the smaller parties, they also resulted into political fragmentation by increasing the scope for coalition bargaining. The electoral transformations and political alignments in both these nations, however, do witness re-alignments in terms of increasing political awakening, youth participation and democratic governance. While parties and party systems across globe do witness declining trends, if not political decimation, the parliamentary politics in both Israel and India has been striving toward accommodating accessibility and political accountability to the electors and the common populace.

Sunil K. Choudhary

14. Competing Issues of Governance: Israel and India Compared

Israel and India share many common political experiences and address similar issues of governance that have shaped their polities for the past seven decades. The issues of governance that dominated the Israeli and Indian governments over the years have broadly remained the same, though their thrust kept on varying from different periods. Electoral populism seems to have been replaced by political governance in both the nations. The contemporary governments in the two nations have spearheaded new democratic transformations, which would focus on the issues of development and governance with an approach of accommodation as against confrontation. The real challenge and success for the present governments is how to project development and governance in the mainstream polities of the two nations.

Sunil K. Choudhary

Backmatter

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