(photo credit: )
In a surprising turn in the voting for the Meretz Knesset list late Monday night, MK Ran Cohen was bumped down to the second slot in the party as MK Haim Oron grabbed the party's number one place, behind chairman Yossi Beilin.
MK Zehava Gal-On finished in the expected third slot while MK Avshalom Vilan, who was predicted to land at number five, passed Tzvia Greenfeld and finished fourth on the list.
Having received the fifth place, Greenfeld would have the chance of becoming the first ultra-orthodox woman to serve in the Knesset for Meretz.
After Greenfeld, Isaweiya Freij received the sixth slot, which is reserved for an Arab candidate.
The seventh, eighth, and ninth slots went to Ilan Gillon, Michal Rozin, and Mussi Raz.
"The Meretz Party has outshone all other parties by the decency and quality of our primary," said Beilin. "We showed that there can be politics without hate and without all the dirt."
There was a feeling of renewed optimism in the Meretz party as wide-eyed supporters gushed over the possibility of rising to 10 mandates at the expense of the Shinui Party.
"We have our chance, now that Shinui is going to pieces," said Dror Morag. "We can pick up those votes, especially now that we stand as the only two parties on the left."
Although some members said that 10 mandates may be overly optimistic, most saw six to eight mandates as highly possible, heating up the race for those spots. Hours before the Meretz primaries closed, party members milled in the convention center, already confident that their party would avoid the political upheavals that have plagued others in the political sphere.
Rainbow flags streamed alongside the booth for Michal Eden, who represented the gay community, while dozens cheered and sang in front of the booth for Freij, who represented the Arab sector.
"As a long-standing member of the party, I have to say that this is one of the most diverse elections I have ever seen," said Morag. "I saw people here from the ultra-orthodox community sharing a table with supporters of the gay movement."
The candidates were elected according to a complex system that one spokesman likened to the Eurovision song contest.
The 22 candidates who have been selected to represent the party can choose to run for the first five spots on the party list or the second five spots. Voters can then elect up to four candidates from each quintet for a total of eight candidates. The person they elect to the top slot receives six points, with each member after that receiving one less point in descending order.