Knesset Overrides Objections by Small Parties to Election Campaigns Subsidy Bill

The Knesset over-rode bitter objections by small party representatives yesterday to a new election campaigns subsidy bill by a vote of 81-five with two abstentions. The bill will replace a previous measure that was nullified by the Israel Supreme Court on grounds that it discriminated against new political factions.

Under the bill, which passed its first reading yesterday, the Israel Treasury will subsidize every political party in the amount of about $33.000 for each seat it holds in the present Knesset. The money is to be used for campaigning for next October’s Knesset elections. Existing parties will receive the money in advance of the elections. New parties will be subsidized after they have elected at least one member to the Knesset. The measure must pass one more reading to become law.

The Knesset also voted 79-six in favor of a bill reaffirming all previously passed election laws. The measure was intended to avert possible future nullification of any of those laws by the high court.

The campaigns subsidy bill easily garnered 20 more votes than the absolute majority of 61 insisted on by the Supreme Court. But it encountered angry opposition from the small factions and from several members of larger parties. Uri Avneri of the one-man Haolam Hazeh faction charged that the bill “stifled” new political forces. He was supported by members of the Free Center faction. A bitter exchange ensued when Dr. Yochanan Bader of Gahal (Herut-Liberal alignment) suggested that the small parties should refuse to accept the campaign subsidies offered them if they objected to the measures so vehemently.

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