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Efraim Torgovnik, "Strategies under a New Electoral System: The Labor Party in the 1996 Israeli elections," Party Politics, 6 (January 2000), 95-106.

First Paragraph:
The 1996 Israeli national elections were held under a new and unique electoral rule: the prime minister was elected through personal elections in one national constituency while the parties ran in a national proportional representation system. Such a mix of electoral systems requires special research underpinning regarding the effect of a personal campaign and party electoral strategies on election results. This paper mainly follows the campaigns of the premiership candidates, the issues that were made salient, and the structural, normative and symbolic features that dominated the campaign. Of the two modes of candidate assessment, on-line and memory-based, the former were expected to dominate. The paper offers an analysis of the campaign strategies, concentrating in particular on the key policy issue -- the unfinished Oslo peace process negotiations -- which was made salient by the incumbent Labor Party and its prime minister candidate, Shimon Peres. A campaign centered on a policy issue is likely to trigger both retrospective and prospective issue voting. A prosperous economy and a widespread sense of personal well-being supported a positive retrospective assessment of the incumbent Labor Party. Nevertheless, bad omens for Labor were a lack of consensus over the peace accords, a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots, the formation of new political parties around ethnic and policy banners, and the sense of threat among the country's religious population, created under the Labor Party and its anti-clerical coalition partner, Meretz.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Party and prime minister voting (1996, 1992)
Table 2: Support for the Oslo peace accords by party vote (%)
Table 3: Personal security after the Oslo peace accords by party vote (%)
Table 4: candidates' qualities (%)

Last Paragraph:
It appears that Labor and Peres did not fully internalize the implications of Israel's transition to dual electoral rule: proportional voting for the Knesset and direct election of the prime minister. Labor's campaign (1) suffered from disorganized management and conflict among its leading figures; (2) failed to shift the emphasis of the campaign after major terrorist attacks; (3) confused the voters with its mini-war in Lebanon and its delay in withdrawing from Hebron, which suggested to the electorate that Labor's key campaign issue -- the Oslo peace accords -- involved security risks; and (4) gave credibility to Netanyahu's safe-peace issue. New salient issues were generated during the campaign. The division of Jerusalem entered the election agenda, and Labor and Peres stood accused. The new issues that emerged due to Labor's peace position and the political tie which had plagued Israeli politics since 1981 left only narrow margins for Labor in 1996.