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Labor leader Avi Gabbay arrives on Monday to vote in the partys primaries.(Photo by: Courtesy)
Labor primary underway as polls open across country
By GIL HOFFMAN
02/11/2019
"This is a holiday, a celebration of democracy in the Labor Party," Gabbay said. "Today we are electing the best team for the next Knesset and the next government of Israel."
Polls opened across the country Monday morning in the Labor primary that will decide the party's list in the April 9 election.

Forecasts of rain are expected to further lower turnout for the race. More than a third of Labor's 60,000 members are senior citizens, and they have tended to vote disproportionately in the past.

Labor leader Avi Gabbay and his wife, Ayelet, voted at the Tel Aviv fairgrounds shortly after the polls opened.

"This is a holiday, a celebration of democracy in the Labor Party," Gabbay said. "Today we are electing the best team for the next Knesset and the next government of Israel."

Gabbay acknowledged the challenges Labor is facing earlier Monday morning in an interview with KAN news.

"There is no doubt we are in a situation that is not simple, but crises build us up," Gabbay said. "At the end of the day we will have the best and most experienced team that knows the Knesset best and can best fight for the people of Israel." 

Labor MK Itzik Shmuli said after voting at the Tel Aviv fairgrounds that he expected the primary to be a turning point for the party. He said he expected to be placed high on the list.

Speaking after she voted at Tel Aviv's Beit Sokolow, MK Merav Michaeli urged eligible voters to "cast their ballots and enable us to replace the government."

MK Stav Shaffir came to vote with her boyfriend, Shauli Sheetrit, at the same polling station as Michaeli and a group of supporters wearing orange wigs and holding orange balloons.

The 44 candidates running will be competing over very few realistic slots. Gabbay will be first on the list, and he obtained permission from the party to appoint his own candidate for the second slot. There are also multiple slots reserved for women.

Most of the 84 polling stations will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., but nearly half will only be open for a few hours. Because the voting is computerized, results are expected by 10 p.m.

Jewish Agency chairman and former Labor head Isaac Herzog is reportedly encouraging Labor members to vote for the head of the Reform Movement in Israel.

"it is more important than ever for the voice of the Diaspora to be heard in the Knesset," so they should vote for the head of the Reform Movement in Israel, who is running in Monday's primary.

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