Samarskaia Liudmila
Political Crisis and Right-Wing Populism
Publication Type:

ISSN 1728-2756

DOI 10.17994/IT.2023.

The Israeli democratic system is facing a serious crisis. After five rounds of parliamentary elections within three and a half years, Benjamin Netanyahu was able to forge a relatively strong coalition in late 2022. The political instability, however, did not end and instead morphed into widespread protests against the new cabinet seeking to pass a judicial reform. The meltdown is accompanied by incessant populist rhetoric stemming from Israeli right-wing parties which formed the coalition. Populism is inherent in a great number of countries around the globe. Israel is no exception in this regard. The phenomenon has been gradually taking a central place in its political arena since the 1970s. Currently, most major Israeli parties have certain populist elements in their rhetoric. This is in many ways a consequence of the heterogeneity of Israeli society and a plethora of its intersectoral contradictions. They have constituted an integral part of the state from its inception only to grow deeper. The unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an additional contributing factor. Right-wing populist parties possess a lot of traits that resemble similar movements in other countries, but at the same time are defined by their own specific features. In particular, they often combine inclusionary and exclusionary populism. By “us” these movements imply mainly the Jews and counterpose themselves to the Arab population in the country, as well as non-Jewish migrants. They also prioritize the Jewish character of the state over the democratic one, though without denying the importance of democratic structures. Concurrently, right-wing populist actors envisage their implementation in a different way. Even if they are not the reason for the parliamentary crisis in Israel, they still exacerbate it instigating further escalation in already considerable intersectoral tensions and narrowing opportunities for dialogue with other political actors.

Keywords: right-wing populism | democracy | Israel | political crisis | judicial reform |


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