Labor to hold run-off between Yacimovich and Peretz

At end of first round, the two candidates are neck and neck with 32 and 31 percent respectively; Herzog falls behind with 25%, says he will weigh his options; Mitzna concedes defeat.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
September 13, 2011 07:48
3 minute read.
Labor Party Convenes

Labor 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Labor will hold a run-off between MKs Shelly Yacimovich and Amir Peretz on September 21, after neither succeeded in winning the necessary 40 percent of the vote in the party primaries Monday.

As the last of the votes were counted at the party’s headquarters at Beit Berl College near Kfar Saba, the two candidates were virtually tied, with Yacimovich having a slight lead at 32% and Peretz holding 31%. MK Isaac Herzog secured only 25% and Amram Mitzna held 12%.

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Herzog said Monday night that he would hold consultations and decide on his actions in the next few days.

Mitzna conceded defeat around midnight. Addressing his supporters in Haifa, Mitzna thanked them for their hard work. "I respect the apparent election results, and as I promised, I will stand by whoever is chosen to chair the party."

Yacimovich on Monday night thanked her supporters, saying the election results were "a clear message: The voters want a social-democratic party, founded on values, one that presents an alternative to the government."

Peretz congratulated Herzog on his achievement while stabbing out at Yacimovich. "Herzog worked through difficult spins thrown his way by Yacimovich. I see him and Mitzna as partners in the fight against [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu."

The winner of the race will replace interim chairman Micha Harish to become the seventh party leader in the past decade.



A Labor spokeswoman said 43,391 of the 66,310 eligible party members exercised their right to vote, some 65 percent of the total. Turnout was significantly lower in the Arab and Druse sectors, and particularly high in the South.

Unlike in past Labor leadership races, no polling stations were disqualified, as the voting passed nearly without significant altercations or illegalities.

Yacimovich complained that at a polling station in the northeastern Negev Beduin village of Abu Krenat, her representative was locked out for an hour while dozens of votes were allegedly forged. Her rival Herzog complained about his loyalists being attacked by haredim in Safed and about a ballot box that was removed from a polling station in the northern Druse village of Beit Jann.

Dozens of Herzog loyalists said they had received messages telling them incorrectly they were not eligible to vote. Herzog called the incident a “stinking maneuver” of a rival candidate.

Following a day of touring polling stations across the country, the four candidates had expressed optimism close to press time that the results would go their way.

Yacimovich said that based on the statistics gathered by her campaign, the turnout among her supporters was 10 percent higher than that of the party membership in general.

“Tonight we will know if Labor is headed toward a new horizon of hope,” she said. “It’s true that there are a lot of egos in Labor and it won’t be easy to unify the party, but I think the interpersonal disputes happened because there was a lack of leadership and vision. I don’t think there will be a split in the party. The democratic verdict of the voters will be accepted.

Peretz said he had experience winning and losing Labor primaries, and based on the positive atmosphere at polling stations and his well-oiled organization, he was sure that he had won.

Herzog, who trailed in the polls, said there was a long history of surveys in party primaries being proven wrong. He pledged to honor any result but expressed confidence that he would be the surprise of the race.

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