Israeli Labor Party leadership vote

The Labor (Avoda) Party of Israel is in the process of choosing a new leader. Its former leader, Ehud Barak, left the party with several other members of the Knesset some months ago in order to remain in the current Likud-led coalition. The majority of the party went into opposition, while Barak formed a new party within the coalition known as Independence (Atzmaut).

The contest is a two-round process in which its rank-and-file membership of around 66,000 is eligible to vote. About 44,000 members cast votes. If the leading candidate obtains over 40% in the first round, he or she is elected. If not, there is a runoff between the top two. From Haaretz:

After a relatively high voter turnout, the Labor primaries yielded inconclusive results on Monday, with Sheli Yachimovich and Amir Peretz at a near tie with 32% and 31% of the votes respectively, and Isaac Herzog trailing behind with 25%.

A recent Haaretz poll suggests the party could do quite a bit better than its current representation if there were a new general election: 22 seats if Yachimovich is leader, 18 if Peretz is.

The party won 13 seats in the last election, and currently has 8 seats after the Barak-led split. A poll at the time of the split had put Labor at 6 seats and Independence at 3 (see first link).

Haaretz commented, “Apparently, this is the first instance of a leader rehabilitating a political party by leaving it.”

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