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National coalitions in Israel, 1984-1990: The politics of 'not losing'.

Korn, Dan (1992) National coalitions in Israel, 1984-1990: The politics of 'not losing'. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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For six years since 1984 Israel underwent a unique political experience: it was ruled by national coalitions supported by more than 75% of the members of parliament. Larger-than-minimal coalitions have always been problematic for traditional coalition theory. The Israeli case provides therefore an opportunity to examine the various actors' motivations and behaviour, as they reflect on coalition theory at 1arge. The assumption that actors are driven by "win maximization" is central to formal models of coalition theory. This assumption led to predictions of winning coalitions which are minimal in size, membership or ideological scope. Non-minimal coalitions were regarded as suboptimal choices, explainable on an ad hoc basis, e.g. national emergency. A careful examination of Israel's "grand coalitions" suggests that "not losing" is at least as strong a motivation as "win maximization". This notion focuses on what actors stand to lose in case of failure, rather than on what they could win if all turns out well. It implies that actors would strive to be included in coalition, regardless of its size. Coalition payoffs to be won or lost fall into two categories - office payoffs, in terms of power, position, and resources, or ideology, in terms of shaping policy according to one's political convictions. An important observation which pertains particularly to polarized systems is that the desire to prevent a rival ideology from prevailing forms a major part in actors' "not losing" considerations. While coalition politics takes place in the interparty arena, attention should be drawn to intraparty politics as well. It may happen that individual actors stand to lose a great deal by forming a minimal winning coalition, which would strengthen the positions of challengers for party leadership. In this case they may feel compelled to form larger coalitions, in order to reduce payoffs to their in-house rivals. In a nutshell, it is suggested herein that if apparently suboptimal, larger-than-minimal coalitions are formed and maintained, it may be because actors are motivated by "not losing". When risks seem too great and uncertainty looms large, as is usually the case, "win maximization" cannot provide a satisfactory heuristic tool, unless supplemented by "loss minimization".

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, Middle Eastern Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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