Elections to Cost Taxpayers NIS 2B

Today's Knesset election will cost taxpayers an estimated NIS 2 billion. That sum includes the Central Election Committee's NIS 206.8 million budget, NIS 170 million-NIS 180 million to fund the election itself and the estimated NIS 1 billion-NIS 1.5 billion cost of the one-day vacation from work.

The election committee's budget increased by 6.8% in real, adjusted terms over that of the 2006 election, which totaled NIS 193.7 million.

The bulk of the increase is attributed to the budget item for election preparations, which grew by 18.4% to NIS 67.5 million.

The preparations include categories like printing costs, such as NIS 3 million to make seven million ballot slips for each party, as well as the production of polling committee protocols.

Conducting voting on ships (such as Israel's Merchant Marine) and at Israeli embassies overseas cost state coffers NIS 525,000. An additional NIS 350,000 was earmarked for editing of party publicity clips, and NIS 2 million was allocated for rent and maintenance of regional party offices.

The Knesset Research and Information Center report reveals that election committee salaries increased by 28.8% since 2006.

The wages of Central Election Committee members will cost the state NIS 12.5 million, and regional election committee salaries will cost NIS 21 million.

A spokesman for the Central Elections Committee explained that there has been in fact no real increase in salaries paid to workers, and that the increased salary cost reflects the cost of social and pension benefits for employees taking unpaid vacation from their regular place of work, for which the state must compensate to ensure that their rights are not compromised.

Each party is entitled to state financing of NIS 1.219 million for each Knesset member that is elected. The final calculation for each party takes into consideration the number of MKs it had in the previous Knesset and the number it has in the new one.

This method of calculation means that parties whose power is on the wane in the incoming government will lose less than they would have done had the calculation been based solely on the number of seats won in the incoming Knesset.

On the other hand, parties whose power is on the rise - according to public opinion polls, this means Likud and Yisrael Beitenu - will lose out, receiving less funding than they would have had their representation in the last Knesset not been taken into consideration.

In addition, this method of calculations means that the final amount finances more than 120 Knesset members.

Moreover, the loss to the national economy for the day off will reach between NIS 1 billion and NIS 1.5 billion.

Many places of employment, in particular stores and restaurants hoping to profit from the democratic holiday, will be open as usual today.

Employers are required by law to pay their workers double for their work today.