Ahead of Wednesday’s (January 4) deliberations on the changes in the V-15 Bill, scholars from the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) sent a letter to members of a joint committee of the Knesset’s House and Law Committees calling on them to amend the bill significantly.
The authors of the letter include IDI President Yohanan Plesner and researcher Dr. Guy Lurie. The letter emphasizes that it is correct to regulate the actions of non-party organizations (NPOs) in elections, to prevent a drastic alteration of the election process by permitting individual financing.
“There should be a requirement of transparency for these NPOs,” wrote Plesner and Lurie, noting that the law should incorporate obligating that the limits on NPO’s expenditures (rather than contributions to them) be considered in the future.
Plesner and Lurie explain in their letter that contrary to the draft, limitations should apply to a ceiling of expenses and not to the amount of contributions. In this way, there would be a limit on expenses but there would be less involvement in the actions of the civil society.
In a comparative study conducted by IDI of 25 democracies, IDI did not find one example of a country that limits the amount of contributions. However, there are a number of democracies that set limits on expenses, including England and Canada. The attempt to place the same limits there are on parties that receive funding from the public on civil society organizations that are funded by individuals is unreasonable.
The writers also present in their letter essential failures connected to enforcing the bill. For instance, the bill only permits parties to appeal to the district court, which could create a political witch hunt full of law suits and counter law suits, and create inequality.
In summary, Plesner and Lurie write that the bill is drafted in an extreme manner. On the one hand, it is gray in its definitions. On the other hand, it opens the door to un-careful constitutional behavior that could harshly and unnecessarily harm freedom of political expression.
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