Yacimovich mulling speedy Labor race

Leader of the opposition says that leadership elections could be held in as little as three months.

Labor party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Labor party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich is considering holding an accelerated primary race for leader of the party by as early as July, she revealed in an interview with Israel Radio’s Ayala Hasson on Thursday.
Yacimovich said the challenge she faced at last Thursday’s Labor convention proved that democracy was thriving in the party. She said elections could be held in the party in as little as three months.
“As long as it depends on me, I prefer a primary as soon as possible,” Yacimovich told Army Radio.
“We are a democratic party and we will do everything in agreement. I believe Labor members will choose me again to head the party. I don’t fear competition.”
But Yacimovich’s rivals charged that the real reason she wanted to move up the race was not to display democracy but to bypass it. Labor bylaws require membership in the party for six months in order to vote for party leader, so holding the race within three months would prevent a new membership drive ahead of the primary.
“If the race is only open to current members of the party, of course she will win,” a Yacimovich opponent in Labor said. “She can get a quickie race passed in the party’s institutions, but that would be antidemocratic in such a brutal way that I don’t think she would even try to do that.”
Holding a primary without a membership drive would be particularly harmful to potential leadership candidate MK Eitan Cabel, because hundreds of Labor members who might have supported him left the party when Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz joined Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party and would return to support Cabel.
Primaries in Labor are normally held 14 months after losing a general election. Yacimovich will meet with Cabel next week to try to set an timetable for the race.
“Although I have not decided whether to run, I have no problem with the race being advanced,” Cabel said. “There must be at least a month or two for a membership drive. Last time, the drive lasted a few months.”
MK Erel Margalit, who has already decided to challenge Yacimovich, said she should find a date everyone can agree on.
“After the disappointing results of the election, I totally understand the need to advance the race for Labor leader and begin a new path that will enable rehabilitating the party and building it as a real alternative to lead the country,” Margalit said.
Labor faction chairman Isaac Herzog, who is another potential candidate, also welcomed moving up the race. He said he would hold consultations before deciding when he wants them to be held.
Yacimovich responded that she would meet with all the party’s MKs irrespective of the potential primary, adding that she could be trusted to consult with all the relevant people in the party and handle the race democratically.