The debate between the promotion of personal interest and the general good of society has engaged political, social, and ethical theorists throughout history, and this volume addresses the topic of the Israeli electoral process within that theoretical framework. Abraham Diskin's analysis of the voting process in Israel involves a definition of its ideological basis, profiles of voting constituents, an outline of prominent political issues, as well as recommendations for needed reform within the system. Introductory material lays the foundation for the study by establishing as a point of departure the concept that democracy and its reliance on elections provides a viable answer to the basic social dilemma of self-interest versus the public good. An historical review that identifies how elections have reflected changes within Israel from 1949 to 1988 follows. Voting procedures and results, polling accuracy, and a close look at the significance of the Jewish ethnic and Arab votes (and the nature of the conflicts that have resulted) are the primary concerns of the text. This approach yields an evaluation of the Israeli electoral process that demonstrates the extent to which it succeeds in the exercise of democracy and thereby may help to outline a method of analysis for other voting systems as they search for constructive solutions to the social dilemma.
ABRAHAM DISKIN is Chairman of the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has been a visiting professor at several universities in the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe. Professor Diskin has published several books and articles for scholarly journals, including Electoral Studies, The Journal of Politics, Behavioral Science, and The Journal of Conflict Resolution. He frequently counsels major Israeli political parties, Knesset committees, the ministry of foreign affairs, and the general inspector of elections.