Election Costs: Over a Billion Shekels, and Then Some

YERUSHALAYIM -
Voting slips for the Knesset elections, on Sept. 17. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel will be holding its third election in just a year this coming March – and elections, while free, have a clear cost. That cost, when taking into account the election in September 2019 and the upcoming March 2020 will be over a billion shekels, the Knesset Finance Committee discovered today. The full sum of NIS 1.2 billion, it should be noted, does not include the estimated NIS 6 billion in lost productivity and extra expenses due to the third Election Day in a year, with Israelis getting a day off with pay, or being paid 200% of their regular salaries.

The cost of each election was estimated at NIS 550 million. Broken down, the figures included allocations of NIS 253 million for parties to use for administrative purposes, ads, and NIS 50 million for the Central Election Committee to cover Election Day expenses.

The costs for elections are deducted from the state budget, which at this time has not been approved for 2020. Until a new government is formed, the 2019 state budget will be used to fund government activities – so a cut of some billion shekels will have to be made across the board in all government ministries in order to pay for the elections, officials told MKs.

Committee head MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said that “it is shocking that a country that is supposed to be functioning properly is required to spend billions of shekels on an unnecessary activity. Avigdor Liberman is directly responsible for this. He needs to think carefully about his actions,” he added.