Press Release

Israeli Democracy Institute to Ministers: Support the Amendment to the Propaganda for Elections Law

Policy statement: "The current law from 1959 does not jibe in the current media and political reality of the 21st century and causes discrimination between different forms of media and political forces."

Ahead of today's vote in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to an amendment to the election propaganda law at the initiative of Knesset Members Yoav Kish (Likud) and Yehiel Hilik Bar (Labor), a policy statement was sent to members of Knesset calling for supporting the proposal. The amendment addresses the need to revamp the way election propaganda is handled, updating the plan put in place in 1959 to better jibe with the current reality. It removes the restriction against broadcasting propaganda on radio and television in the 60 days before the election.

The amendment also calls for requiring internet election ads to say the source of the ad. The proposal includes some of the recommendations from a study by IDI called "Reforming the Election Propaganda System," by Dr. Tehilla Shwartz-Altshuler and Dr. Guy Luria.

In a policy statement that was sent to the ministerial committee, Dr. Shwartz-Altshuler writes: "The election law is a foreign element in the political and media reality of the 21st century. It does not address social media in a serious way, which is one of the top platforms for propaganda today, while is forbids propaganda on planes and boats."

Dr. Shwartz-Altshuler adds that the law in its current form creates an unfair playing field between media outlets, billboards, radio, TV and of course internet, even when the content is exactly the same.

The policy statement calls for the amendment to do more to bring about greater equality between all media outlets, such as broadcasting election propaganda only on public broadcasting, providing candidates the options of purchasing election ads on commercial TV in the last two weeks before an election, raising the maximum expenditures for propaganda to 30 percent of what is permitted for a list, reducing the authority and the judgement of the head of the Central Elections Committee to apply censorship on broadcasts of propaganda, and obligating all of the pollsters to relate to all the lists competing in the election.

In summary, Dr. Shwartz-Altshuler writes, "The initiative to amend this issue is welcome. The amendment proposed along with additional elements as presented in the research are necessary in order to ensure the propaganda law is an effective shield of rich public discourse ahead of an election."

For IDI Research (Hebrew):

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