A general view shows the plenum during the swearing-in ceremony of the 20th Knesset, the new Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem March 31, 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Ministers and Knesset members who run for reelection in parties that hold primaries would receive funding from the state treasury for their campaigns, under a bill that was advanced Sunday in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.
The bill, which was initiated by Likud MK David Amsalem, will be brought to a vote in its preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Amsalem said the bill was necessary in order to eliminate fund-raising from donors with special interests and to prevent wealthy candidates from having an advantage.
“The primary system has many expenses, so it gives an unfair advantage to those who have means,” Amsalem said.
“Campaigns can cost thousands and even hundreds of thousands of shekels, which prevents candidates who are not wealthy from running.”
Amsalem’s bill would make it illegal for incumbent elected officials to accept contributions.
Instead, 80%of the amount permitted to be spent by incumbent MKs and ministers in primaries would be funded by the state.
All candidates, including those who are not incumbents, would be given loans from the Treasury that would become grants if they are elected.
The Israel Democracy Institute criticized Amsalem’s proposal, saying although his intentions were good, the bill would discriminate against candidates who are not incumbents. Professor Gideon Rahat, Dr. Ofer Kenig and Dr. Guy Lurie of IDI sent a letter to the ministers on the committee, urging them to fix the legislation.
“The proposal would result in there being two kinds of candidates with unequal conditions: new candidates and incumbents,” they wrote. “There should be an alternative proposal that would encourage the initiation of a system of equal funding for all candidates, with limits to avoid a huge waste of taxpayer money.”