Democratic Movement for Change

Democratic Movement for Change
תנועה דמוקרטית לשינוי
Leader Yigael Yadin
Founded 2 November 1976
Dissolved 14 September 1978
Ideology Centrism
Most MKs 15 (1977-1978)
Fewest MKs 15 (1977-1978)
Election symbol
Politics of Israel
Political parties

The Democratic Movement for Change (Hebrew: תנועה דמוקרטית לשינוי‎, Tnu'a Demokratit LeShinui), commonly known by its Hebrew acronym Dash (Hebrew: ד"ש) was a short-lived and initially highly-successful centrist political party in Israel. Formed in 1976 by numerous well-known non-politicians, following a spectacular breakup, it had ceased to exist within less than two years.



Dash was formed on 2 November 1976 by the merger of several liberal movements (including Shinui), together with numerous public figures, including Yigael Yadin, Amnon Rubinstein, Shmuel Tamir, Meir Amit, Meir Zorea and several other business leaders and academics, as well as some Israeli Arabs.

The party's formation was the result of a growing dissatisfation with the mainstream parties, particularly the ruling Alignment, which, including its predecessors, had ruled Israel since independence in 1948. Starting with the Yom Kippur War, the Alignment had been hit with numerous scandals during the mid-1970s, including:

Initially the party was called Democrats-Shinui (Hebrew: דמוקרטים-שינוי, Democratim-Shinui), but was soon changed to the Democratic Movement for Change and, as with many parties in Israel, became popularly known by its acronym, Dash. The new party caught the public's imagination, with over 37,000 people signing up as members within a few weeks of its foundation. It also pioneered the use of primaries to choose its electoral list, something that was intended to show its democratic credentials and prevent cronyism. Previously in Israel, party lists had been decided upon by the parties' committees, but since the late 1970s, almost every party in Israel (with the exception of the Haredi ones, Shas and United Torah Judaism) has followed Dash's lead and adopted the primaries system.

Dash did surprisingly well in its first electoral test, picking up 15 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, the best performance by a third party since the 1961 elections. This made it the third largest party after Menachem Begin's Likud and the Alignment, which had shrunk from 51 to 32 seats. However, Begin was still able to form a narrow 61-seat right-wing coalition with Shlomtzion (Ariel Sharon's party), the National Religious Party and Agudat Israel.

The party was invited into the coalition in November 1977, five months after the Knesset term had started. The party picked up several ministerial portfolios - Meir Amit was made Minister of Transportation and Minister of Communications, Shmuel Tamir became Minister of Justice and Yadin was named as Deputy Prime Minister.

However, the fact that the party did not control the balance of power led to internal disagreements over its role. The party began to disintegrate, finally splitting in three on 14 September 1978, with seven MKs breaking away to reform Shinui, another seven founding the Democratic Movement and Assaf Yaguri creating Ya'ad. Shinui (including Amit) and Ya'ad left the coalition, whilst the Democratic Movement, which included Tamir and Yadin, remained in the government.

Nonetheless, even the new parties were not stable, with the Democratic Movement also crumbling. In 1980, three of its seven members left to found Ahva and Mordechai Elgrably quit the party to sit as an independent (he later joined Equality in Israel – Panthers to create the Unity Party). Four months before the 1981 elections the party folded, with Tamir, Yadin, and Binyamin Halevi sitting as independents for the rest of the Knesset term. Tamir lost his ministerial position in 1980, though Yadin remained Deputy PM. Ahva also followed the breakup pattern, losing two of its three MKs before the Knesset term ended.

Further changes occurred when two Shinui MKs defected to the Alignment and two of the three Ahva MKs left the party.


The only long-lasting faction of the collapse was Shinui, which reappeared in the next Knesset, the only party emerging from Dash to do so. It eventually merged with Mapam and Ratz to form Meretz in 1992, before breaking away again under Avraham Poraz in the mid 1990s during the 14th Knesset.

Ironically, Shinui itself met an almost identical fate to its ancestor. In the 2003 elections it won a massive 15 seats (a jump from six in the previous election), making it the third largest party after Likud and Labour. The party joined Ariel Sharon's coalition, but left in late 2005 after disagreements over the budget. Before the 2006 elections it split into three after most of its MKs were defeated in internal party elections, and none of the new parties won a seat in the elections. With the advent of the centrist Kadima and the new-found success of Gil, none of the new parties are likely to reappear in the next Knesset, whenever elections are held.

Knesset members

Knesset Members
Meir Amit, Shafik Asaad, Zeidan Atashi, Mordechai Elgrably, David Golomb, Binyamin Halevi, Akiva Nof, Amnon Rubinstein, Shmuel Tamir, Shmuel Toledano, Mordechai Virshubski, Stef Wertheimer, Yigael Yadin, Assaf Yaguri, Meir Zorea (replaced by Shlomo Eliyahu)

External links

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