Netanyahu Loyalist's Push to Reduce Election Campaign to 45 Days 'Unreasonable'

Election board harshly criticizes lawmaker's initiative, as Israel inches closer to a third vote in one year

Miki Zohar at the demonstration in support of Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, on Tuesday, November 26, 2019.
Ilan Assayag

Members of the Central Elections Committee harshly criticized Likud MK Miki Zohar for proposing a bill to reduce the time of the election campaign from 90 to 45 days. as “unrealistic, unachievable and unreasonable.”

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The law does not allow the period of the campaign to be abbreviated and in any case the committee is not ready to act over such a short period of time, they said. The committee composed a position paper that presents a detailed timetable for the election campaign of 90 days, to show that Zohar’s timetable would not work.

Zohar’s bill does not explain how the process could be abbreviated, which includes hiring and training tens of thousands of people (the committee has only eight full-time employees and 18 part-time employees) and giving the parties the months they need to prepare their candidates, whom the committee and the High Court of Justice must approve. The locations of the polling stations must be mapped and the voter rolls updated as well.

Ninety days was hardly enough time during the last election, committee members said. They noted that the timetable has not changed much since the 1969 elections, when there were only 3,395 polling stations (as opposed to 11,000 today) and around 1.76 million voters (as opposed to around 4.6 million today).

“The Central Elections Committee will carry out its work, as always, in the best way possible, according to the decisions of the Knesset, committee CEO Orly Adas said. “Nevertheless, the Knesset must look at all legal aspects arising from the laws governing the Knesset elections, organizational-operational aspects involved in carrying out the elections properly, and the difficulties stemming from a third round of elections close in time to the previous round. Thus the Knesset must set a realistic and achievable timetable,” she added.

Zohar presented another bill on Tuesday to cancel the national holiday in the upcoming elections. Zohar said cancelling the holiday would save the economy 1 billion shekels ($2.9 million), but the committee shot down the idea, because it would mean schools could not be used as polling places. “Where will we hold the elections? In stalls on the street?” a committee member said.