Netanyahu Likud 311.
(photo credit: AP)
A six-month-long mass registry campaign of Likud members concluded Friday, and
although the ranks of registered Likud member swelled by 50% of their original
size, the jury remained out regarding the final verdict on the party’s
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With elections for the party’s central committee and top
positions sixteen months away, Friday marked the last day on which
newly-registered party members will be allowed to participate in the 2012 poll.
The last time elections were held for the 3,000 delegates who form the powerful
central committee was in 2002, despite the fact that the party’s constitution
originally mandated that such a vote be held once every four years. Netanyahu’s
opponents on the right-wing of the Likud claimed that the prime minister had
delayed the internal elections, and extended the deadline for the party registry
in order to weaken their camp within the party.
“He wanted, although he
didn’t say it, to bring another mass of people to neutralize certain camps
within the party,” said MK Danny Danon (Likud), who took credit for registering
some 4,000 new Likud members in the national-religious camp, both in the West
Bank as well as in communities in the center of the country. Danon said that
while numerically, the number of “orange” Likud members maintained the status
quo, he believed that they would actually cast more influence at the internal
polls. “Ideological voters didn’t come because of organized pressure, but
because they understand the importance of their vote, and we’ve seen from the
past that their percentage of influence is more important,” he
“In the last elections when there was trouble with the
computers, it was the national- religious voters who were still waiting in line
at 10 p.m., with their baby strollers, in order to cast their vote.”
Haim Katz (Likud) also was a top registrar, with an estimated 4,000-5,000 new
and returning Likud members registered by him, mostly working through his center
of power in workers’ councils, especially in the Israel Aeronautics
Local Likud infighting was responsible for the two other large
groups of voters registered – in Rishon Lezion and in Ramat Gan, where there are
currently ongoing political struggles on the municipal level. In Ramat Gan, MK
Carmel Shama (Likud) struggled against current Mayor Moshe Revach in order to
try and determine who would win the party’s nomination to run for mayor in the
next municipal elections.
Shama, however, said that this was not the
case. “There aren’t any great agreements within the Ramat Gan branch but it did
not reach the level we saw in previous years. I am more in the background as
someone who cares about the Ramat Gan branch, which is my home branch, and which
is being threatened by a group of people.
“If you take the numbers that
everyone claims that they registered, then we would have ended up with 400,000
new voters,” said Shama. “Ultimately, everything becomes clear, but there is a
tendency to exaggerate.”
Shama said that he estimates that fewer than
2,000 were registered in Ramat Gan, while some 5,000 were registered in Rishon
Lezion, another municipality in which internal contests dominate Likud
Since the elections for the Knesset, an estimated 50,000 new
Likud members were registered, with the numbers registered in the current
six-month registration drive estimated at around a quarter of that number. Prior
to the drive, registered membership in Likud hovered around 90,000, down from a
peak 300,000 under the auspices of Ariel Sharon.