8-month Labor saga comes to a head in today’s race

Amir Peretz and Shelly Yacimovich vie for head of Labor party; polls open at 10 a.m., close at 10 p.m.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
September 21, 2011 02:04
2 minute read.
Labor Party 2011

Labor Party 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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An eight-month political saga that began when Defense Minister Ehud Barak split Labor and left it without a leader is set to end on Wednesday, when the party will choose between MKs Shelly Yacimovich and Amir Peretz.

Exactly 171 polling stations across the country will open at 10 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. in order to allow the 66,310 Labor members to cast their ballots. Results are expected late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.

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Both Yacimovich and Peretz expressed confidence they will emerge victorious in meetings with their campaign staff and volunteers on Tuesday.

“We have a close race ahead of us that we intend to win, but it won’t be easy,” Yacimovich told her loyalists at her headquarters at Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center.

“Our support is huge but we have to make sure it makes its way to a ballot box and decisive results, and doesn’t remain at home or merely in ‘likes’ on Facebook.”

In a speech to his loyalists in Afula Tuesday night, Peretz sounded as if he had already won the race. He spoke about the need for the party to start leading the way on diplomatic and socioeconomic issues in a way that would eventually lead to the toppling of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.



“Our goal will be to bring more and more Likud voters who are disappointed with Netanyahu in order to increase the size of the center- left bloc and enable the formation of a socioeconomic government of peace,” Peretz said.

The key to victory in the race will be the ability of the candidates to maximize voter turnout among their supporters. Turnout is expected to be lower than the 66 percent who voted in the first round last Monday, due to the defeat of candidates Isaac Herzog and Amram Mitzna.

Peretz is known for having a well-oiled machine that is able to get out the vote where he has strong support in development towns and among Arabs.

But Yacimovich has the support of two of Labor’s top vote contractors, Druse former minister Salah Tarif and Histadrut Labor Federation chief Ofer Eini.

A lawyer for Peretz complained to Labor’s administration about Eini illegally using Histadrut offices and staff to work for Yacimovich.

The Yacimovich campaign called the complaint “political spin with no connection to reality.”

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