Labor wins ‘Manuel Trajtenberg sweepstakes’

Yesh Atid and former welfare minister Moshe Kahlon’s Koolanu party both tried unsuccessfully to draft Trajtenberg.

 Professor Michael Trajtenberg (photo credit: TAU)
Professor Michael Trajtenberg
(photo credit: TAU)
Renowned economist Manuel Trajtenberg announced Wednesday that after three years of political overtures from parties across the political map, he has finally decided to enter politics.
The winner of the contest for Trajtenberg will apparently be Labor, a source close to him said. Trajtenberg met Monday with Labor leader Isaac Herzog and his No. 2 on their joint list, Hatnua head Tzipi Livni.
Herzog denied that a deal had been reached, but one scenario reported was that he will be given the seventh slot on the joint list, which is reserved for the Labor secretary-general. Secretary- general Hilik Bar would instead receive the 16th slot on the list.
Very senior senior labor sources firmly denied the report and said Bar would remain the 7th slot. 
Polls were taken and focus groups convened to determine Trajtenberg's support before deciding how and where to place him on the list. 
In a letter that Trajtenberg wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his capacity as education minister, Trajtenberg asked to advance his departure from his post as chairman of the Council of Higher Education.
He wrote that he intends to enter politics “in order to contribute to economic prosperity and to create a more just society.”
Yesh Atid and former welfare minister Moshe Kahlon’s Koolanu party both tried unsuccessfully to draft Trajtenberg.
Losing him is a blow to Kahlon, who has also recently lost out on Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s daughter Adina Bar-Shalom and former IDF deputy chief of staff Yoav Galant.
“He is a serious man and his addition would be significant,” Herzog told Army Radio. “But nothing has been finalized with him.”
Born in Argentina, Trajtenberg has degrees from Harvard and the Hebrew University. He has held various governmental posts, but he gained notoriety when he was appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to head a committee that responded to socioeconomic protesters who filled the streets in the summer of 2011.
Trajtenberg could replace MK Avishay Braverman as Labor’s top economist.
Braverman announced Tuesday that he would not seek election to the next Knesset.
Channel 1 reported that Trajtenberg insisted on being named Labor’s candidate for finance minister.
Trajtenberg’s spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report.
Meanwhile, Yesh Atid drafted a new candidate: Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yelin. Party leader Yair Lapid will welcome him to the party Thursday at a press conference in Kerem Shalom.