Labor candidates claim thousands of new members

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 6, 2011 03:06

Large number of new member forms brought by Isaac Herzog and Amir Peretz could pit the 2 MKs against each other in race for Labor head.

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Labor Party

Labor Party 521 (do not publish again). (photo credit: Flash 90)

The Labor Party’s leadership race will not be held until September 12, but it may already be decided on Tuesday, the deadline to submit new membership forms in the party’s registration drive.

Going into the race, the party had only 28,000 members. But the six candidates for the Labor chairmanship have been touring the country signing up thousands of new members on forms – most of which will be delivered this week ahead of the deadline to the party’s headquarters in Kfar Saba.

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MK Isaac Herzog became the first candidate to deliver forms to Labor headquarters on Sunday. Herzog brought 6000 forms, which his associates said were only half of the 12,000 members he would register ahead of the deadline.

That could put Herzog in a good place strategically to reach a two-man run-off race against MK Amir Peretz, who is expected to bring in some 20,000 forms.

Assuming no candidate among the six wins 40 percent of the vote on September 12, the two top finishers will face-off in a run-off two weeks later.

Apparently trailing behind in the race for most membership forms are former Labor Chairman Amram Mitzna, who will only bring in some 8000, and MK Shelly Yacimovich, who has quoted different, and widely varying, numbers.

Less known candidates Shlomo Buhbut and Erel Margalit are not expected to be a factor, even though the millionaire Margalit reportedly spent a fortune on the drive. Margalit’s spokesman estimated his drive at 4000. An aide to Buhbut called the other candidates’ numbers “bullshit.”

Labor has appointed former Labor secretary-general Ra’anan Cohen as chairman of its election committee, and put former judge Sarah Frisch in charge of making sure the drive was handled ethically. Fricsh headed a committee that investigated a problematic membership drive in Labor six years ago, in which there were widespread allegations of fraud.

The first feud over the drive took place on Friday when it became apparent that heads of kibbutzim had attempted to register their kibbutz en masse with one credit card, even though the kibbutzim had been privatized.


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