The new Meretz party after the 2019 primaries.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Meretz will win 10 seats in April’s elections to the Knesset, party chairman Tamar Zandberg said on Friday, after members backed a diverse list of candidates in the party’s first primary.
An impressive 83% of Meretz’s 21,000 members backed incumbent members of Knesset and a prominent former Druze school principal in the party’s first-ever primary on Thursday to lead the left-wing list’s efforts together with leader Zandberg in the upcoming Knesset elections.
MKs Ilan Gilon, Michal Rozin, Esawi Frej and, for the first time, renowned Druze school principal Ali Shalalha will be among those aiming to secure election to the Knesset after securing top five places in the party list. Ethiopian-born Mehereta Baruch-Ron is placed sixth, and will also hope to reach the Knesset.
“I don’t think there has ever been such a diverse and accurate list: our response to the Nation State Law is true Jewish-Arab cooperation at the head of our list,” Zandberg wrote on Facebook, adding that the party’s impressive line-up will win 10 seats on April 9.
“Our answer to discrimination and racism is a diverse and impressive group of leaders in their fields, fighters for justice and equality, women and men from all over the country.”
Twenty-three hopefuls ran in the primary, with members making their voices heard at electronic ballot boxes in 131 separate locations across the country. Recent polls have projected that the party will win between four and seven seats in the Spring election.
“For me, the Knesset is an instrument to realize the objectives of the Israeli public,” Shalalha, from the Druze town of Beit Jann, told The Jerusalem Post
after the results were announced.
“These are objectives of peace, equal distribution of resources, giving a boost to education in the periphery and health care. Without any doubt, we need to unite the Israeli people and not divide them.”
There was disappointment, however, for MK Mossi Raz (7th place), former party leadership hopeful Avi Buskila (8th), head of the party’s periphery operations Avi Dabush (10th) and veteran Peace Now campaigner Yariv Oppenheimer (13th), who all aimed to finish higher in the list.
Those fighting for the votes of the electorate in just over 50 days will do so with a strong mandate from party members, with the 83% voter turnout far exceeding the 58% turnout in the Likud primary and 56% in the Labor primary.
Zandberg will lead the party into a Knesset election for the first time after she won Meretz’s first leadership primary in March 2018, succeeding Zehava Gal-On after six years as party leader.
“We will rise like a phoenix. Just look at the list we have,” Gilon, who is set to serve in the Knesset for a fifth term, told Reshet Bet on Friday. “I think we will be the surprise of the elections. We have to reach a two-digit figure.”
Questions still remain regarding a potential union between Meretz and Avi Gabbay’s Labor, with the latter currently projected to receive between eight and ten seats in the Knesset.
Last week, approximately 100 left-wing activists from both parties met in Tel Aviv to discuss the possibility of running on a joint slate. The move was led by Young Labor chairman Tomer Pines and former Meretz MK and journalist Nitzan Horowitz.
Parties across the political spectrum hoping to unite must do so by Thursday, the deadline to submit party lists.
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