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Group: Election Day Costs 'Crushing' for the Economy

Election Day will cost Israelis NIS 1.1 billion (about $300 million), a consulting group said - a crushing burden for the Israeli economy
By David Lev
First Publish: 1/21/2013, 9:20 PM

Election slips
Election slips
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Democracy may be a wonderful system for choosing governments, but it isn't cheap: Between the outlays for security, election workers and supervisors, police overtime, salaries for government employees, and other miscellaneous expenses, Election Day will cost Israelis NIS 1.1 billion (about $300 million). The BDI business consulting group said that this did not include the losses to the economy in general, since Election Day in Israel is by law a national day off for workers. Employees who are not working receive full pay, and many workers who are in industries where companies have permits to operate on national days off receive as much as 200% of their normal salaries.

Additional payments are to be made to workers because the elections are being held early, BDI noted. According to Israeli labor laws, workers are considered as being “forced” to take a day off by circumstances beyond their control. Under such circumstances, workers are to receive the maximum benefits and payments prescribed by laws and union contracts.

In addition to the direct and indirect costs, said BDI, the Israeli economy suffers even more because of early elections: Economic “edicts,” like tax increases, are postponed by the government, in order not to scare voters away from voting for the incumbent. In this particular situation, the group said, the damage was likely to be severe, because the government had a huge deficit – as much as NIS 40 billion (about $10 billion, although the total figures are unclear), which needed to be dealt with immediately.

The group pointed to examples of many other countries, such as the United States, where election day is not a “day off. Workers receive time to go out to the polls and vote and then return to work,” the group said in a statement. “The country must reconsider the policy of turning election day into a day off, given the crushing economic damage entailed.”