Labor's Yacimovich captures primary top slot as women, socioeconomic voices round out top 10

Isaac Herzog leads list; Shelly Yacimovich wins third slot.

January 14, 2015 07:24
Labor Party MK Shelly Yacimovich during a committee session at the Knesset

Labor Party MK Shelly Yacimovich during a committee session at the Knesset. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Labor members boosted the party's socioeconomic agenda by voting for candidates who concentrate on such issues in their primary, according to official results announced Wednesday morning.

Former chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich won the third slot on the Labor list after her successor Isaac Herzog and Hatnua head Tzipi Livni. The following two slots were won by the leaders of the 2011 socioeconomic protests Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuly.

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The remainder of Labor's top 10 will be MKs Omer Bar-Lev, Hilik Bar, Amir Peretz, Merav Michaeli, and Eitan Cabel. The primary was a poor showing for Cabel, who was considered a favorite for the third slot.

The eleventh slot is reserved for a security figure who Herzog will announce soon. Candidates for the slot included former OC Intelligence Amos Yadlin and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz.

MK Erel Margalit won the 12th slot, followed by MK Miki Rosenthal.

New candidates won realistic slots, including attorney Revital Swid, Ma'ale Gilboa Regional Council head Danny Atar, Arab broadcaster Zoheir Bahalul, Kibbutz Movement head Eitan Broshi, industrialist Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, and economic professor Yossi Yonah.

Yacimovich said she was happy that there are three women in Labor's top five.

"Now we have a joint goal to capture the country's leadership in March and bring about the end of Netanyahu's tenure, which is critical for Israel's future," she said.

Herzog on Wednesday praised the results of the primaries in which his predecessor, Shelly Yacimovich, emerged as the big winner, capturing the third slot on the slate.

Herzog released a statement calling the list “the best, cleanest, most courageous with fighters for Zionism who have experience and outside-the-box thinking, deep ideology, and great ability to get things done.”

Herzog said the list represents all sectors of Israeli society and predicted that it could lead Israel for the next four years.

“Labor has just gotten started and there is room to join and be a part of it,” he said. “We have two months now to go across the country, knock on every door, and call upon the citizens of Israel to take the driver’s seat in this country together with us and bring about the change that all of Israel wants.”

The Likud campaign called the Labor list “extreme leftist under the leadership of Tzipi, Buji [Herzog’s nickname], Yacimovich, Shaffir, and Zoheir Bahalul.”

Cabel, who was thought to be neck-and-neck with Yacimovich in the race for the third slot, is widely viewed as the loser.

“The results were very disappointing,” Cabel said, adding that he “did not understand what happened.”

He said that he was not aware of any political deals aimed at stopping him.

Channel 10 reported Tuesday night that three candidates would make it hard for Herzog to form coalition with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman: Moshe Mizrahi, who prosecuted him when he was in the police, attorney Eldad Yaniv, and Rosenthal. Neither Mizrahi nor Yaniv won realistic slots.

Turnout reached 58.9 percent - higher than the 57% of the last Labor primary two years ago. There were long lines at polling stations in Tel Aviv and other cities.

There were no reports of vote tampering or problems at polling stations. The party hired private investigators to patrol polling stations just in case.

"It was a celebration of democracy," Labor leader Herzog said. "There are no parties with such a positive atmosphere. It has been beautiful to see the party so vibrant. Our members realize that for the first time in years, we are presenting a serious alternative to [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu."

Thirty-six candidates were seeking slots on the Labor list in the primary. Labor's 48,904 members were eligible to vote in 400 polling stations in 76 locations around the country.

"Of course I am worried, and there is tension," Yacimovich said. "I did everything I could to maintain my political camp in the party and win as high a slot on the list as I can."

Cabel, who held his recently hospitalized daughter Shira as he voted, said he had hopes to be in Labor's top five and beyond that he just hoped Labor would have the best list possible.

Several candidates had representatives give out presents to potential voters at the polls. Yacimovich's volunteers gave out roses, MK Shai's handed out rulers and pens bearing his name, candidate Nahmias Verbin's team distributed mints with her picture.

Michaeli barred her volunteers from giving out anything. She told them she was against littering.

At Jerusalem's polling station at the Agron Guest House, male and female volunteers helping MK Shaffir wore orange wigs and hats to remind voters of Shaffir and her hair color.

With candidates like Shaffir and Shmuly focusing on young voters, Shai decided to devote much of his campaign to attracting support from senior citizens, who are one third Labor's members and a higher percentage of those who come out to vote in primaries.

"If I succeeded, it is a testament to the power of the pensioners, who see they have an address in Labor that will fight for their rights," said Shai, who heads the Pensioners lobby in the Knesset.

Russian immigrant candidate Lamuel Melamed, who did not win a realistic slot, spent the day at the polling station shaking hands and introducing himself to voters. Atar came and acted smugly, as if he had already won a top slot.

Mizrachi said modestly that he succeeded last time without being part of any camp and in the party and he hoped that he would in tis election too. Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv, who won the 32nd slots, said Labor voters more aware of the need his messages of pluralism "They realize it is more important than ever to counter the extremism of Bayit Yehudi and Likud," he said.

The only American-born candidate in the race, Tel Aviv mayor Ron Hulda'i's foreign affairs adviser Eytan Schwartz, is 33rd on the list.

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