The immigrants in Israel from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) followed a different pattern of political growth than other immigrant groups. Their increased power began on the national level and moved down to the local level, rather than from the periphery toward the centre - the pattern followed by the Oriental Jewish immigrants. We can trace three stages in the development of their political power. The first stage was during the 1992 elections when the immigrants attempted to organize their own list. Though they failed, the results of the election strengthened them because they were given credit for the left's victory, giving them a sense of political effectiveness. The second stage came during the 1996 elections. It was a defining moment for the former Soviet immigrants' political power. In this stage external factors and internal factors reinforced each other. The change in the electoral system made it possible for the immigrants to vote for their community on the one hand and for a national figure on the other, thus resolving their identity dilemma. The local elections in 1998 marked the third stage in their political strength. They found the immigrant community better organized, with an improved understanding of its local interests, the capacity to put forward a strong local leadership, and a stronger link between the immigrant political centre and the local level. Thus, these three stages represent milestones in the transformation of the FSU immigrants from passive to active citizenship, from the centre to the periphery, and from a separatist identity to a legitimately distinct identity within the Israeli political and social mosaic.
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