In January 2023, massive protests erupted in Israel against the right-wing government’s proposed reforms to restructure the country’s democracy–reforms that mirror the types of institutional changes that populist parties on the right in Hungary and Poland have used to steer their countries away from liberal democracy. Concern that the proposed reforms would lead to a concentration of power in the executive and a weakening of the courts sparked protests throughout Israel. These protests in turn led to the suspension of the proposed reforms. Analysis suggests that the erosion of democracy is driven by conservative elites rather than far-right parties. Likud, the establishment center-right party, exhibits intense populism but its voters do not overwhelmingly reject liberal democracy. Israel’s case highlights the need to consider both mass and elite attitudes and challenges traditional distinctions in understanding democratic backsliding.
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