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Facing a low-level leadership struggle, Yosef "Tommy" Lapid and Avraham Poraz attempted to retain their top seats against Shinui party competitors at elections held Thursday.
Lapid was chosen to head the list, although by a surprisingly small majority (87-62).
Altogether 53 candidates were vying for the 18 slots on Shinui's slate for the upcoming Knesset elections. The list and its order will be determined at a ballot in Tel Aviv by the 169 members of the Shinui council, who represent a party membership of 3,000.
Polls show the centrist, secular Shinui Party, which currently holds 15 Knesset mandates, plunging in the March elections. Some surveys have put its yield at as few as three to five seats, with Kadima presumed to have gained most of the former Shinui voters.
Lapid, however, brushed off concerns about the numbers Wednesday.
"As soon as it's clear that Sharon isn't coming back, the people who had voted for Shinui in the past and intended to vote for Kadima will come back," he said.
Lapid's leadership has been challenged by some within Shinui who claim to have poll results giving Shinui twice as many mandates without the former TV personality at its helm. A Lapid aide, however, dismissed moves against the party chairman as destined to fail.
Lapid, the former justice minister, faced one opponent, Gilad Yitzhak, for the number one spot, while Poraz, who was interior minister, has four challengers. Each slot, starting with the first position, is voted on in succession by the council. Any candidate who is unsuccessful in the vote for a given slot can contest the next one.
All of the party's current MKs plan to run again, except for Chen Reshef, who is leaving the Knesset to spend more time with his family.
Lapid recently called on party members to ensure that there was at least one woman among the top five candidates. He recommended that if a woman didn't win one of the first four seats, men refrain from contesting the fifth.
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