Minorities and political success

Gil S. Epstein, Odelia Heizler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we focus on the effect of belonging to one or more minority groups on the probability of success in primary elections. We use a unique dataset of candidates in Israeli primaries. Our main finding is that belonging to one minority group decreases the probability of winning; however, belonging to two minority groups increases the probability of winning. Thus, being a new immigrant, a woman or a Muslim decreases the chances of electoral success (relative to a native male); however, a candidate who is a woman and a new immigrant, for example, has an advantage in the race. In some cases of candidates belonging to two minority groups, their chances of success are not only higher than for a candidate from one minority group, but also than for a candidate from the majority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-671
Number of pages15
JournalEconomics Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Economics Bulletin.


In Israel, many of the parties represent particular ethnic and religious minority groups. Hadash, Balad, and Ra’am/Ta’al are Arab-supported parties, and Israel Beiteinu ("Israel Our Home" in Hebrew) is heavily supported by immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Bayit Yehudi is a religious party. United Torah Judaism and Shas are ultra-religious (Orthodox - Haredim) parties distinguished mainly by ethnic backgrounds (Diskin and Hazan, 2014): while the former applies to the ultra-religious Jews from Europe, Shas applies to the old immigrants from Asia–Africa and their second and third generations (Mizrahim) who feel wronged. Nevertheless, the biggest parties also appeal to voters who belong to religious and ethnic minority groups (Hazan and Rahat, 2000).

FundersFunder number
Israel Beiteinu


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