Report: New Elections Could Cost Israel Up to NIS 3B

A special polling station for voters quarantined due to possible exposure to the coronavirus, in Tel Aviv in March. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

With the Knesset on the verge of being dissolved, elections could cost Israel over NIS 3 billion ($1.02 billion), Yediot Acharonot reported Sunday.

According to the report, a fourth election cycle in two years would come amid an economic and health crisis, with over 900,000 unemployed, 80,000 businesses already closed and a budget deficit accounting for 13% of GDP.

This sum is an optimistic assessment, the report suggested, given that much more polling stations and workers will be needed to minimize the number of voters arriving at each location due to the coronavirus pandemic. Separate polling stations are also planned to be opened at retirement homes and geriatric facilities.

If the Knesset does not dissolve itself, It will be automatically dissolved if a budget for 2021 is not passed by December 23 and snap elections would then be set to take place in March.

With a budget not passed, the Knesset will have to approve special legislation to fund the election.

On Thursday, the Finance Ministry released a special memorandum to prepare such a bill.

Since Election Day in Israel is a public holiday, it is estimated that the public sector will lose up to NIS 700 million, with the private sector losing NIS 1.4 billion.

The direct loss to the state budget, regardless of the GDP loss because of Election Day being a public holiday, stands at about NIS 620 million.

NIS 350 million will be allotted to the Central Election Committee – which oversees the whole process from polling stations, to printing hundreds of millions of ballots, pay for workers and over 3,000 inspectors.

NIS 270 million will be given to fund the campaigns for the various political parties. This estimate does not include loans the state gives to new parties for their campaigns.

Because of coronavirus restrictions, there may also be a need for a two-day election period to allow social distancing at the ballot locations.

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