The chaotic nature of Israeli politics in general, and of the party system in particular, has left most observers in despair. Elections for the parliament, the Knesset, have produced dozens of parties vying for seats, with an average of a dozen actually winning representation. Yet most of the parties failed to survive even a single decade. None of the twenty-one parties which put up candidates for the first Knesset in 1949 was listed in the elections for the fourteenth Knesset in
1996. The Israeli party system-established when the country’s population totaled less than one million, which today is almost six million-has been identified by high fractionalization, fragmentation and polarization.