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Knesset Approves Law Aiming to Check Development of Splinter Parties

Israel’s Parliament approved last night changes in the election law which will make it more difficult for splinter parties to develop and which bars electioneering of any kind by public servants who have administrative authority.

The law, which was adopted in clause-by-clause voting, requires a deposit of 5,000 pounds ($2,800) for a new list of candidates in an election which will be forfeited if the new list fails to obtain one percent of the valid votes cast in that election.

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s Mapai party favored less stringent restrictions on new parties and the clause was approved by votes of the other parties. The new Liberal party also voted against the clause on grounds that it was undemocratic, because it allegedly favored vested interests against newcomers to the political arena. The clause provides that the amount to be forfeited will be only 1,000 of the 5,000 pound deposit in the event the list is invalidated by the Israel Central Election committee.

The measure barring electioneering by public servants, including employees of a municipality, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund, applies to any employee of a public body who has the power to make administrative decisions. Such persons will be barred from electioneering, publicly or privately, within his own work area or elsewhere.

The proposal which was adopted again involved Mapai versus other parties, Mapai favoring an arrangement under which the ban on election activity would apply only to the individual’s work area. The stronger proposal, offered by the Mizrachi, Mapam and Achdut Avodah, passed by a slim majority.

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