Peretz camp confident after membership drive

Labor chairman's position in next race expected to improve now that opinion surveys will include 50,000 new members.

labor logo 88 (photo credit: )
labor logo 88
(photo credit: )
Associates of Labor chairman Amir Peretz claim they brought in half of the party's 50,000 new members in the recently ended registration drive. They expressed confidence on Sunday that his position in the leadership race would improve dramatically now that opinion surveys will include the new members. The party released the complete list of eligible voters in the May 28 primary on Sunday. The race for the Labor chairmanship could take a dramatic turn on Monday when the first polls since the end of the party's membership are expected to be published. Each of the five candidates and three large Hebrew news dailies paid Labor NIS 500 for a disk with the list of 103,348 Labor members and immediately started conducting surveys. The results of the polls will go a long way toward determining the candidates' chances of winning. Until now, polls have shown that MK Ami Ayalon and former prime minister Ehud Barak were running neck-and-neck, ahead of Knesset Interior Committee chairman Ophir Paz-Pines, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and MK Danny Yatom. But those polls were taken before Labor doubled its membership. The kibbutz sector, which is said to be divided between supporters of Ayalon and Barak, is Labor's largest with some 14,000, followed closely behind by the 13,000 members from the Arab sector, where Peretz has an advantage after appointing Science, Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadle as Israel's first Arab minister. Labor Secretary-General Eitan Cabel cautioned against estimating the strength of the candidates based on the size of the sectors. "Every candidate can fight for the support of any member," he said. "When it all comes down to it, people think for themselves. Three months is a very long time and there will be many reports and spins between now and them."