Half a million members of the Histadrut labor federation are eligible to vote on Tuesday for the leadership of the powerful union that has the ability to shut down the economy.

The race has been hard fought as Labor MK Eitan Cabel ran a negative campaign and incumbent Histadrut chief Ofer Eini has declined to debate Cabel while spending millions of shekels on billboards and bus advertisements across the country.

“Only in dictatorships are there that many pictures of the leader everywhere,” Cabel said on Monday. “I implore Jerusalem Post readers who are members of the Histadrut to come vote. Every vote helps remove the rule of fear that currently exists in the Histadrut.

If they don’t think Eini improved their lives, they should come vote for me.”

Eini gave a rare interview to Israel Radio on Monday in which he said he expected a high turnout. He mocked Cabel for not obtaining the support of key unions within the Histadrut.

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich called upon Labor MKs in Monday’s faction meeting at the Knesset to work on Eini’s behalf in the election. She said a strong victory by Eini would strengthen the party.

“There will be a tough battle over the 2013 budget that will be fought more in the public eye than in the Knesset,” Yacimovich said. “Our numbers in the Knesset are small, so the Histadrut could be a good base of power for us.”

Yacimovich’s rival MK Amir Peretz objected, saying that “Cabel can lead a much more successful battle against the budget.”

Voting will open in the morning in more than 2,000 polling stations across the country. There will also be some 250 mobile polling stations.

Besides Histadrut chairman, voters will choose local Histadrut representatives and women will choose the leader of the Na’amat women’s organization.

Final results may not be available until later in the week.

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