The Knesset building.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Knesset voted 65 to 52 Tuesday to advance legislation that would provide government funding for candidates in primary elections.
In the current system, candidates fund these races on their own, with donations from Israel and around the world.
The bill, sponsored by Likud MK David Amsalem, would cover all funding if three conditions are met: the party has at least 5,000 members; its list is mostly democratically elected; and primaries take place no more than six months before a Knesset election.
Candidates would no longer raise their own funds.
The bill would provide funding even for those parties that do not hold primaries – to the tune of NIS 50,000 for every mandate they received in the previous national election.
Meretz MK Mossi Raz called Amsalem “an asset to the opposition” because his “corrupt bills persuade thousands of people to protest in the streets.”
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) went further, telling the plenum the bill was “raiding the public coffers” and he would vote for it only because he was bound by coalition discipline.
Amsalem responded that the bill would prevent the “political bribery” of campaign contributions, separate wealth from government and strengthen democracy.
The bill will now go to Amsalem’s own Interior Committee, which will prepare it for its final readings enabling it to become law.