Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich is expected to complete her takeover of the
party’s institutions Tuesday when some 60,000 party members across the country
go to the polls to elect a new central committee and councils for local
The grassroots of the party until now was loyal to former Labor
leaders Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Amir Peretz. A substantial percentage of party
members are seniors and other veteran, lifelong members.
But Labor has
taken affirmative action to ensure a changing of the guard among the grassroots.
Forty percent of the membership in its central committee and local council will
be reserved for women, 20% for young people and just 15% for
Out of 5,747 candidates for these positions, 60% are new
members who joined the party since Yacimovich won last September’s leadership
race, and 1,477 are young people.
Veteran Labor activists criticized
Yacimovich for “cleaning house” in the party.
“She is trying to erase
decades of contributions of Labor members by advancing young people who were
never part of the party before,” a veteran activist said. “The fight between the
older generation and the new is unhealthy.”
Peretz will continue to
dominate Labor branches in the periphery. Those branches will not even vote
Tuesday because their leadership was already decided through internal political
The most hotly contested races will take place in branches in Tel
Aviv, Haifa and Givatayim, where the party’s old guard will face off against
newcomers. In Tel Aviv, activists loyal to Yacimovich will face off in a bitter
battle against allies of MK Isaac Herzog.
Ballot boxes will open at 2
p.m. and close at 10 p.m. at 112 polling stations from Eilat in the South to
Kiryat Shmona in the North. Results will be released Wednesday. Special polling
stations were made available to students whose campuses are far from
Labor officials said that while other parties had not even decided
their direction, Labor already held an ideological convention to write its
platform and formed 100 teams of volunteers.
“After years in which there
was a tendency to avoid elections and reach agreements on lists, Labor is
holding a democratic process of elections for its institutions,” Yacimovich
said. “The large number of candidates testifies to the phenomenal political
After the institutions are selected, Labor will be done with
its internal matters and turn its energy and its resources to preparing for the