V15 ACTIVISTS on the streets in the 2015 elections..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The anti-super-PAC bill, also known as the “V15 bill,” was passed into law by the Knesset plenum late Monday night in its final second and third readings, by a 41-27 vote.
The law defines for the first time an “active elections body” and will apply restrictions on political parties’ funding, according to the Party Funding Law on NGOs. The law’s declared purpose in doing so is to “prevent inappropriate intervention by non-party organizations in the general Knesset elections.”
The proposal for the law was inspired by V15, a getout- the-vote organization that campaigned against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the previous election.
The law defines different stages in which an organization is required to report to the state comptroller the cost of its elections-related activity. It also limits the funding of such organizations during the elections period and determines that a breaching of the law is a criminal offense – as stated in the Party Funding Law.
Israel elections in 60 seconds
In its final version, some controversial articles of the law were omitted, such as the “Israel Hayom article,” which suggested posting restrictions on media outlets that call on supporting a specific candidate in the elections.
The initiator of the law and the chairman of the joint panel that advanced it, MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), told the Knesset plenum that its purpose is to regulate the election campaign system and to prevent intervention by external elements.
“It is important to stress that this bill is not intended to silence anyone,” said Kisch before the vote. “This bill wishes to prevent a situation in which bodies invest large amounts of money in order to influence the election outcome. These bodies easily bypass the restraints of the Party Funding Law, because they are not required to.”
Kisch added that the law is not about coalition and opposition, and that it gained support from both.
“Many of us do not want to see elections like in the US, where super-PACs have great influence,” he said.
MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) expressed his objection to the bill, saying the aim to promote it is to deter citizens from taking an active part in the public sphere.
“This bill comes from a patronizing, tyrannical and hysteric place,” he said. “Its sole purpose is to intimidate the people of civic society from playing an active role in the political game.”
Hasson stressed that he wishes to promote transparency as well, but this law does not serve this purpose, adding that it is mainly declarative and its only effect will be harming democratic rule in Israel.
“V15 wanted to replace the government – just like us. This is the essence of democracy,” he said.