Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Independence Party intends to use the extended time before the next general election to try to sign up as many new members as possible in order to prove the party’s vitality, Independence officials said Sunday.
The party took out full-page ads in Hebrew newspapers over the weekend, even though there is no general election on the horizon. The ads featured Barak and the slogan “Israel needs a responsible adult.”
Independence director-general Oshi Elmaliah said his party would seek members all the time and not conduct mass membership drives to help candidates win higher slots on the party list like Likud, Labor and Kadima.
“We are always getting ready for elections,” he said. “Some people still think we won’t run independently, but our membership drive shows them they are wrong.”
Unlike Likud, which charges a monthly membership fee, and Kadima, which charges a one-time fee to join, joining the Independence Party is free.
But Likud and Kadima members will pick their party’s members of Knesset, while in Independence all the key decisions are made by Barak with input from his other four MKs.
Even Yair Lapid’s new Yesh Atid party has an annual fee of NIS 40 to handle administrative costs. But Elmaliah said a party starting with no fee was not odd and that Kadima initially started that way.
Elmaliah estimated his party membership at 8,000, which is much less than the 130,000 Likud members, but still more than might be expected.
“If someone would have told me at the beginning that we would get 8,000 members, I would have called them delusional,” Elmaliah said.
“This is a respectable achievement for us.”