Majority Rule in Israel / #4 / M. Nissen



Max Weber defines power as “the chance of a man or of a number of men to realize their own will in a social action even against the resistance of others” (Weber, 159). Unlike Marx, Weber argues that while power can stem from economic wealth, power more accurately exists within the realms of classes, status groups, and political parties. Within the realm of the legal order (distinctive from the social and economic orders), parties are “oriented toward the acquisition of social power” and “always involves association…directed towards a goal which is striven for in a planned manner” (Weber, 167). Therefore, for a party to have power it must be able to realize this directed goal despite any opposition from other parties.

In Israel, the government is created by a coalition of political parties within the system in order to establish a majority. The Legislative branch, or the Knesset, holds 120 seats, and a majority coalition must include 61 members (Levine). The current coalition within the Knesset, lead by prime minister and Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, holds the exact minimum for a majority—61. While a coalition system does not exactly fit within Weber’s ideas of power distribution based on political parties because it is more complex than one party gaining power over the others, it does reflect aspects of his ideas. The main idea it reflects is the basic definition that power is created when a group of men (the coalition) is able to realize their own will (legislation) despite resistance or opposition (such as from the other parties of the Knesset). The coalition itself acts in some ways as a party on a simplified and larger scale; parties can have dissent and individual agendas within their members just as the coalition can have dissent and individual agendas between the parties. But both the parties and the coalition act as a group of elected officials trying to push through their own legislation and ideals through various means of compromise. Without compromise on the smaller scale between members of a party on the agenda they most want to push, and on a larger scale for concessions between the parties, the coalition simply won’t get anything done and will collapse. However, as long as the parties exercise their influence within the coalition and make compromises to their own advantage, the coalition will remain intact despite other ostensibly compromising factors, such as a criminal investigation of one of the coalition’s leading members. Currently, such a situation is occurring as Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri is undergoing his second criminal investigation, but there shows no signs of his personal life upsetting the balance within the coalition until a formal indictment is issued (Mualem). The Israeli government seems to have a precarious distribution of power because while the prime minister and the individual parties have the power to push forward their own goals and agendas, they can only maintain power if they works within the system to keep a stable majority number.




“Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu agrees coalition deal,” BBC News. Web. 1 May 2016.

Levine, Jason. “Israel Government & Politics: How Does the Israeli Government Work?” Jewish Virtual Library. Web. 2 May 2016.

Mualem, Mazal. “Latest scandal unlikely to rattle Netanyahu’s coalition,” Al-Monitor. Web. 2 May 2016.

Weber, Max. “The Distribution of Power Within the Political Community: Class, Status, Power,” Foundations of Classical Sociological Theory, pp. 159-168

Majority Rule in Israel / #4 / M. Nissen

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