Panel Recommends Big Changes in Israeli Electioneering

YERUSHALAYIM -
An Israeli soldier arranges ballots in a mobile voting on March 17, 2015. (REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
An Israeli soldier arranges ballots in a mobile voting booth on March 17, 2015. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

In an interim report, the Public Elections Committee has made a string of recommendations that would significantly change the way elections are conducted in Israel. Among the major changes would be the end of state-allocated broadcast time for each party on the public airwaves; instead, parties would receive a minimum of broadcast time, but would be free to advertise all they want in the media.

Currently, parties get a minimum time of one to two hours in free broadcast “credits” for media advertising, which takes place in an organized manner at specific times. The original idea behind that rule was to allow each party an opportunity to present its message, regardless of its budget. But in the modern era, the committee said, media consumption habits have changed, and most voters get information about parties in alternative ways, such as online and via social media.

Instead of the two or more hours each party gets now, each would receive four minutes of free broadcast time. Any party that wanted to advertise more would be welcome to, but would have to pay for the privilege.

Another major change would entail canceling the ban on media advertising 60 days before an election. Currently, media outlets are banned from interviewing candidates for the Knesset during that period.

The committee’s final report is due at the end of the year. If adopted, the recommendations could be implemented before the next election is held.