Labor minister, voters express increasing dissatisfaction with party

Labor Minister, public,

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
October 24, 2009 23:21
2 minute read.
barak voting 248 88 AP

barak voting 248 88 AP. (photo credit: )

 
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With the Labor Party reaching unprecedented lows in public support, further cracks began to appear over the weekend among those politicians who have remained at least nominally loyal to party chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "With no diplomatic horizon, the party has no right to exist," said Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman during a Saturday event in Modi'in. Braverman emphasized that the problem facing the party was not simply a personal issue, but that the party itself "must open up together, including carrying out the necessary changes." Braverman is considered one of the more left-leaning ministers in Barak's party, with a legislative history closer to that of the so-called Group of Four rebels than to Labor's Likud coalition partners, or even to Barak's more right-leaning faction within the party. Thus far, no minister has joined the four, who have been voting as an opposition faction within the coalition party since the opening of the 18th Knesset. Braverman's comments came a day after a study published in Yediot Aharonot indicated that the veteran party had reached historic lows in its public support. According to the poll, Labor under Barak would sink to seven mandates if Knesset elections were held now - a decline of six mandates. Likud would pick up an additional six mandates, and Meretz would add three - presumably at Labor's expense. Among Labor voters polled, Braverman ranked third as the most popular alternative to Barak, with 17% of voters responding that he would be their choice. Most indicative, though, was the tie between the front-runners, Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog and "Group of Four" MK Ophir Paz-Pines, both receiving the support of one-quarter of those polled. An additional 21% participating in the poll run by Dahaf-Mina Zemach said they could not identify a suitable alternative to Barak. After Braverman, those gaining the remainder of support were two MKs also identified with the left-wing of the party - MK Shelly Yacimovich, with 8% of the vote, and MK Amir Peretz with 4%. The Labor Party, and particularly its chairman, have been dealt a number of blows in recent weeks that have shaken the already fractured faction. Ten days ago, the state comptroller released a report blasting Barak for his use of public funds while participating in the Paris Air Salon. Last Monday, in a move considered a no-confidence vote on Barak's leadership, Labor Knesset faction chairman Daniel Ben-Simon resigned his post. No replacement for Ben-Simon has been named, as no Labor MK is willing to take the reins of the troubled caucus. Finally, a week after the State Comptroller's Report, Barak - and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, also of Labor - were fined by the Knesset Ethics Committee for failing to meet the minimum attendance requirements of all MKs.

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