Democratic Choice (Israel)

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Democratic Choice
בחירה דמוקרטית
LeaderYair Golan
Founded20 July 1999
Split fromYisrael BaAliyah
IdeologySocial democracy
Labor Zionism
Political positionLeft-wing[1]
AllianceMeretz (2003–2006)
Democratic Union (2020)
Most MKs2 (1999-2003)
Fewest MKs1 (2003-2006)

The Democratic Choice (Hebrew: בחירה דמוקרטית, Bekhira Demokratit) was a political party in Israel. Between 1999 and 2006, it was the name of a faction led by Roman Bronfman, which was associated with Meretz.[2] In 2020 the party was revived for five days by Yair Golan.


Bronfman era (1999–2006)[edit]

The party was formed in July 1999 during the 15th Knesset when Roman Bronfman and Alexander Tzinker broke away from Yisrael BaAliyah. At first, the party had no name, and was recorded as the Parliamentary Group of Bronfman and Tzinker in the Knesset, but after six days a name was approved by the Knesset committee: Mahar (Hebrew: מח"ר), literally Tomorrow, but also an acronym for Mifleget Hevra veReformot (Hebrew: מפלגת חברה ורפורמות, lit. Party for Society and Reforms). Three months later the party's name was changed, this time settling upon Democratic Choice.

On 24 November 2002, in the run-up to the 2003 elections, Bronfman decided to run as part of a joint list with Meretz and Yossi Beilin's Shahar movement, with the Democratic Choice guaranteed fifth place on the party's list. However, Tzinker, who did not share Bronfman's social-democratic ideology, quit the faction and founded an independent party, Citizen and State. Although Meretz received criticism for its decision to unite with Bronfman given his support for Jörg Haider's far-right Freedom Party,[3] the merger was reported to have given Meretz almost enough votes from new immigrants for an extra two seats.[4] In the elections the joint list won six seats, with Bronfman retaining his place in the Knesset. Tzinker's party won just 1,566 votes, well below the 44,750 vote qualifying threshold. The Democratic Choice also won seats on municipal councils, including that of Haifa.

When Meretz and Shahar decided to unite into one party, Meretz-Yachad, in 2004 during the 16th Knesset, the Democratic Choice chose not to join, though it did remain as part of a united faction with the new party.

Prior to the 2006 elections Bronfman announced that the party would run independently on the basis that the alliance with Meretz was costing him votes in the Russian sector.[5] In January 2006 Bronfman held discussions with Avraham Poraz about a mass defection of Shinui MKs (who were unhappy with the surprising results of the party's primary elections) to the Democratic Choice.[6] However, the talks came to nothing and Poraz ended up founding Hetz. Two months before the elections the party withdrew its candidacy, with Bronfman deciding not to run in the election.[7]

Golan era (2020)[edit]

The party subsequently became defunct, before being revived by Yair Golan in the build-up to the 2020 elections.[2]

On 7 January, the Democratic Choice agreed to contest the elections on a joint list with Meretz, called the Democratic Union.[2] On 14 January, Meretz agreed to run on a joint list with Labor and Gesher, with Golan joining Meretz.[8]


  1. ^ a b Shmuel Sandler, M. Ben Mollov & Jonathan Rynhold, ed. (2013). Israel at the Polls 2003. Routledge. p. 156. ISBN 9781136828072. Another secessionist group, the left-wing and anti-clerical faction of Roman Bronfman and Alexander Zinker, left Yisrael B'Aliya shortly after the May 1999 elections, and in August 1999 announced the establishment of Habehira Hademocratit party.
  2. ^ a b c Jacob Magid (7 January 2020). "2 of 3 left-wing slates that make up Democratic Camp ink deal to stick together". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  3. ^ Ari Shavit (9 January 2003). "The Meretz man and the Austrian right". Haaretz. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  4. ^ Lily Galili (31 December 2002). "Meeting the changing needs of immigrants". Haaretz. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  5. ^ Lily Galili (6 September 2005). "How do you say 'the next prime minister' in Russian?". Haaretz. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  6. ^ Hilary Leila Krieger (15 January 2006). "Ex-Shinui MKs mull breakaway party". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  7. ^ Gil Hoffman (10 February 2006). "Politics: Filling in the blanks". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  8. ^ Gil Hoffman (14 January 2020). "Former MK Frej disappointed over Labor-Meretz lineup as parties sign". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 8 March 2020.

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