Polling opens across Israel in Labor leadership race

66,310 eligible to vote in primary between Amir Peretz, Amram Mitzna, Isaac Herzog, Shelly Yacimovich for party leadership; polls open at 10 a.m.

September 12, 2011 04:15
2 minute read.
Amir Peretz greets supporters

Amir Peretz greets supporters311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))

The four candidates for the Labor Party leadership each expressed confidence on Sunday that he or she will emerge victorious in Monday’s primary.

Polls opened at 10 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. for the 66,310 party members eligible to cast a ballot. Because votes will be counted by hand at Labor headquarters in Kfar Saba, results are not expected until early Tuesday morning.

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The candidates spent Sunday meeting with their campaign teams and volunteers, encouraging them to do everything possible to get out the vote. In photo opportunities at their campaign offices, they all boasted that they had the election- day organization to carry them to victory.

“Our team of 3,000 volunteers will bring 25,000 to 30,000 members to polling stations across the country and we figure more will come on their own,” MK Amir Peretz told reporters at his campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Peretz said his goal was to not only receive more votes than the other candidates but also to obtain the 40 percent of the vote necessary to avoid a September 21 run-off race against the second-place finisher.

MK Shelly Yacimovich, who has been leading in the polls, cautioned her volunteers against complacency.

“The polls are terrific, but the votes you get in the polls don’t count,” she said at her Tel Aviv headquarters.

“We have a huge amount of volunteers all over the country and we are ready.”

MK Isaac Herzog and former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna said they did not believe any of the candidates would get enough votes to avoid a run-off race.

“There will be a second round and I will be in it,” Mitzna said at his campaign headquarters in Haifa, where he was mayor from 1993 to 2003. “Every vote matters. The race is wide open. At the ballot box, people will vote according to their conscience for who they really believe in.”

Herzog said his support had increased by 10 percent in the past week, thanks to activists loyal to Histadrut labor federation chief Ofer Eini and MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who hasn’t endorsed a candidate.

“This will be a very close race,” Herzog said at his Ramat Gan campaign headquarters. “I will be the surprise of this election.”

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