ISRAEL, ONE OF THE WORLD’S OLDEST DEMOCRACIES
Israel: One of the World’s Oldest Democracies
Einat Wilf with Shany Mor
Seventy years after declaring independence, Israel is (by one reckoning) the world’s tenth oldest continuous democracy. It had universal suffrage from its first day – yes, Arab citizens too. Israel was not the only newly independent state to emerge in the aftermath of the Second World War and to begin its days as a democracy, but it has been the only one to never fall, even temporarily, into some kind of authoritarianism. No coups, no emergency governments, no cancelled elections, no opposition leaders in jail, no suspensions of basic political or civil liberties.
Israel is one of only 20 or so countries (out of 200) that has been rated free by Freedom House for nearly half a century. Of the very few countries that have been practicing democracy without any interruptions longer than Israel, most have only done so for slightly longer (Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden) and none have done so in conditions of ongoing conflict, repeated wars on multiple fronts, terrorism, waves of immigration in unparalleled proportions, and a population of vast linguistic, national, religious and ethnic diversity.
Dr. Einat Wilf is a former member of the Knesset (2010-13). Shany Mor is a former director for foreign policy on the Israeli National Security Council. (Fathom-BICOM)