Opponents' woes have Meretz upbeat for primaries

Meretz prepared for its primaries on Monday with optimism, as recent upheavals in rival parties reenergized it. Polls indicated that Meretz could pick up as many as three seats - two from Shinui and one from Kadima - bringing its number of mandates to seven. Previous polls had Meretz receiving four mandates. While MKs Ran Cohen, Zehava Gal-On and Haim Oron were widely predicted to receive spots in the top five, the race for the fifth, sixth and seventh seats in the party have heated up. MK Shalom Vilan, who enjoys the support of the Kibbutz Movement, is vying against former MK Mossy Raz and Ilan Gilon, while Tzvia Greenfield and Gabby Lasky are contending for a seat reserved for women. Meretz elects its representatives according to a unique system that closely resembles the structure of the Eurovision song contest. The 22 candidates who have been selected to represent the party can choose to run for the first five spots on the party list or the second five spots. Voters can then elect up to four candidates from each quintet for a total of eight candidates. The person they elect to the top slot receives six points, with each member after that receiving one less point in descending order.