Local Authority Elections

Final Confirmation: This is the Date of the Local Authority Elections

Final approval: Local authority elections will be postponed for three months. There is a possibility that they may be postponed for an additional month, depending on the circumstances.

(Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset approved, in the second and third readings, the bill to postpone the general elections for local authorities. In the third reading, 17 Knesset members supported the proposal without opposition.

The proposed law stipulates that the elections originally scheduled for the 16th of Cheshvan, 5784 (October 31, 2023), will be postponed by three months and will take place on the 20th of Shevat, 5784 (January 30, 2024). However, the government may, by order, decide to postpone the new date by an additional month to the 18th of Adar Aleph, 5784 (February 27, 2024), provided that the order is issued with the approval of the Knesset and is based on special circumstances or the recommendation of the Interior and Environment Committee with a majority vote. According to the proposed law, all actions and decisions made prior to the elections will remain in effect.

From the proposed law, Section 3 dealing with election procedures is being split, and it will be presented to the Interior Committee for preparation for the second and third readings. This section will include various matters that arise from the postponement of the elections, such as funding for candidates nominated by the state, the Employment for Elected Officials Law (CEL), or the dismissal of candidates who were government employees, increasing the spending limits, and more.

In the explanatory notes for the proposal, it is written: "Regarding the difficulties of holding elections during a war, which are very much in line with the current situation in the country, see HCJ 360/09 Reches v. Minister of the Interior, p. 18: 'In times of war or a large-scale military operation, under certain conditions, there may be a justifiable reason to postpone election dates - both general and local. The existence of a state of emergency, where a significant portion of the population is recruited into the military, while the remaining population is subject to enemy attacks, may create a situation in which it is difficult to conduct a democratic election process that fulfills its core objectives.'"

As a result of this difficulty, there may be a situation in which the voters cannot fully exercise their right to vote. For example, because going to the polling stations may involve a risk to their lives, many voters may prefer not to vote and not to put their lives in danger. There may also be a situation in which those conscripted into the military will not be able to effectively exercise their right to vote due to their involvement in the military operation and their physical distance from the polling places, which are not accessible to them."

In addition to these considerations, there are practical and technical difficulties related to conducting a regular election during a time of war. Local authorities are required to focus their efforts and allocate all their resources to deal with the wartime situation and the numerous challenges it poses, leaving them unable to handle the organization of an election system. State authorities also face organizational and practical challenges in managing the elections as they are currently required to perform critical actions as part of the country's response to the challenges it is facing."

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