Likud primary polling place 390.
(photo credit: Ben Spier/screenshot)
The Likud Central Elections Committee extended the deadline for the
primary voting by one hour to 11:00 p.m. Tuesday, saying poor
weather conditions could have prevented voters from casting their
Earlier, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's campaign expressed worry about weather forecasts, which had predicted rain in much of the country.
As Netanyahu and Likud rival Moshe Feiglin were
facing off in the primary election for the party's leadership,
the Feiglin camp voiced concerns about a deliberate campaign to prevent
his supporters from voting.
Netanyahu and Feiglin
voted in their party primary Tuesday morning a short time after polls
opened. As of 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 40,00 people had cast their votes
in the election, some 32 percent of the 125,000 eligible voters.
A Likud official on Tuesday informed 41 party members that had been
evacuated from Gush Katif in 2005 that they are ineligible to vote in
the Likud primary elections because their place of residence is as of
yet unknown. Eligibility for voting in the party primary hinges on one's
ability to vote in local elections.
Likud primary contender Moshe Feiglin's campaign chairman Ezra Gabay
said that 41 Gush Katif evacuees were ineligible to vote because
Netanyahu had consciously tied the vote for party leader to the vote for
local representatives. Gabay added that all of the 41 evacuees had
voted in previous party elections.
The Feiglin campaign also claimed that a lack of proper voting materials
at ballot boxes in Judea and Samaria were preventing Likud members from
voting at those polling places.
The Feiglin camp said in a statement that they were
convinced the problem was "not an innocent mistake, but rather an
attempt to sabotage the vote in places where Feiglin wins wide support."
When asked if he believed the Likud administration was working
against him, Feiglin said he had a "difficult feeling" that efforts were
being made to prevent people from voting for him.
Feiglin asked for a two-hour extension in the primary voting due to the alleged voting violations.
spokesman responded that there were a number of polling stations that
opened late and had various other problems, and they were working to
solve all of them. The spokesman emphasized that nothing was done
purposely to harm one candidate or another.
Upon placing his
vote at the Binyanei Ha'uma Conference Center in Jerusalem, Netanyahu
urged party activists to come out and vote. He
warned that, "If the inactive majority stays home, we get an inaccurate
picture" of what party activists want. "If everyone comes and votes, we
get a clear picture," he told reporters.
"I take every election
seriously," he said, expressing hope that the turnout would be closer to
100% than the 40% who voted in the previous primary.
Feiglin, who voted near his home in in Karnei Shomron said he was confident his supporters would come out to vote.
extra percent I get today beyond what I got before is an advancement of
the national camp," Feiglin said in an interview with Army Radio
At stake for Likud members across the country is the party leader and the makeup of the Likud central committee.
125,000 people, who have been Likud members for at least 16 months,
will be eligible to vote. More than 150 polling stations opened Tuesday.
Results are not expected until
after midnight when the winner of the leadership race will call a press
conference at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
Both Netanyahu and
Feiglin hope to exceed their totals from the last Likud election in
August 2007 when Netanyahu won 73.2% of the vote and Feiglin
Sources close to Netanyahu expressed concern Monday that
if the turnout in Tuesday’s race is not higher, it could artificially
inflate support for Feiglin, whose supporters may flock to polling
stations in large numbers.
In an unplanned press conference Tuesday, Netanyahu asked registered Likud members to exercise
their right to vote before polls close.