State Comptroller Yosef Shapira today issued a report that contained damning evidence against several members of Knesset, explaining that they had violated campaign funding and spending laws by raising or spending too much money on their primary campaigns. Shapira singled out members of the Likud, Labor, Meretz and Bayit Yehudi parties, levying fines of as much as NIS 30,000 on individual MKs.
There are many disturbing statistics in the report. However, the Israel Democracy Institute's Ofer Kenig, a researcher in IDI's Political Reform project, says there is one very encouraging statistic: The number of candidates who were fined went down substantially this year in comparison to years prior.
- In 2009, 30% of candidates running in the primaries were fined.
- In 2013, 27% were fined.
- This time, only 20% were fined.
This statistic shows that the majority of candidates who ran in the primary election took to heart the warnings by the state not to play games.
Kenig notes that unfortunately every time a report such as the comptroller's is released it paints the more open and democratic parties in a negative light.
"The system for primary elections is not perfect," explains Kenig. "However, holding primary elections is still better that when one leader or a small group of politicians selects the candidates in the party."