The 19th Knesset elections
will cost the Israeli taxpayer NIS 450-500 million (about $115-130 million). The public coffers will pay the cost of operating voting stations through the Central Election Committee, which is expected to stand at NIS 220-230 million ($57-60 million).
Governmental funding of the parties' election campaigns stands at some NIS 180 million ($46.5 million), and new parties are expected to receive at least NIS 50 million ($13 million) – in the meantime as temporary credit.
The Election Committee budget will be submitted to the approval of the Knesset's Finance Committee, after lawmakers approve the special bill to move up the elections.
The budget of the previous elections, four years ago, stood at NIS 210 million ($54 million) and is linked to the cost of living index.
The party funding budget for factions currently serving in the Knesset is flexible, based on an index-linked funding unit for each elected lawmaker in addition to a funding unit per each faction. The unit cost is determined by a public committee, according to the funding law enacted 40 years ago, and stands at NIS 1.32 million ($340,000) today.
PM Netanyahu announces early elections (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
There are 13 factions in the Knesset today, so the overall funding budget will be calculated according to 134 units (120 MKs plus 13 factions).
But the governmental funding is not the ceiling limiting parties' election spending. The law allows them to increase their election budget through bank credit only, limited to 60% of the funding each faction with over five MKs is entitled to. The credit for smaller factions is calculated as if they each have five MKs.
Therefore, parties' overall spending (funding plus credit) could reach up to NIS 300 million ($77 million), so that the election cost for public coffers – both the State's and the parties' – could even amount to more than NIS 600 million ($155 million).
According to the state comptroller's report, parties' debt balance totaled NIS 165 million ($43 million) at the end of 2010, led by the Labor Party
with NIS 54 million ($14 million) and Kadima
with NIS 34 million ($9 million). The Likud's
debts total about NIS 29 million.