125,000 Likudniks to head to polls

Netanyahu worries low voter turnout at party primary could artificially inflate support for rival Moshe Feiglin; party activists call for boycott of primary to protest PM's policies.

Netanyahu with likud background 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu with likud background 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Likud members across the country will go to the polls Tuesday to choose a leader between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and party activist Moshe Feiglin and elect a new Likud central committee.
About 125,000 people, who have been Likud members for at least 16 months, will be eligible to vote. More than 150 polling stations will be open nationwide from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Results are not expected until after midnight when the winner of the leadership race will call a press conference at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
Both Netanyahu and Feiglin hope to exceed their totals from the last Likud election in August 2007 when Netanyahu won 73.2 percent of the vote and Feiglin 23.4%. The turnout in that race was only 40%.
Sources close to Netanyahu expressed concern Monday that if the turnout in Tuesday’s race is not higher, it could artificially inflate support for Feiglin, whose supporters may flock to polling stations in large numbers.
They said they were worried about weather forecasts predicting rain in much of the country.
Netanyahu sent an automated message to thousands of Likud members urging them to come out to vote.
Feiglin’s team of volunteers will be working to bring members of his Manhigut Yehudit organization to the polls.
A group of Likud activists who have registered thousands of members eligible to vote in the race have called for a boycott of the primary to protest Netanyahu’s policies. The group hopes turnout will be less than 50% so they can call the election’s legitimacy into question.
Netanyahu will be voting in Jerusalem and Feiglin near his home in Karnei Shomron.
Likud’s Judea and Samaria branch’s chairman, Shevach Stern, who initiated the boycott, said he won’t be going anywhere near polling stations.
“I will be going to work to support my family,” Stern said. “This is just a regular day for me.”