Tight Race for Few Spots in Labor Primaries

48,904 voters to choose between 36 candidates on list already crowded with reserve seats Tuesday; results expected Wednesday.

Tova Dvorin ,

Labor party primaries
Labor party primaries
Israel News photo: Flash 90

The Labor primaries will be held Tuesday, with 48,904 eligible voters expected to attend 76 polling sites nationwide.

At 10:00 am, the polls will open, and voters will be asked to select eight to ten candidates to represent the left-wing powerhouse.

The ballot boxes will be locked at 10:00 pm, and shortly thereafter the vote count will begin - through computers capable of scanning up to 200 forms per minute, according to Walla! News.

The party has expressed optimism in a full tally by Wednesday morning and a press conference and gala event has been called for 11:00 am to announce the results. 

Thirty-six candidates are competing for a highly limited number of spots in the party. In light of spots reserved for Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party (which has shrunk significantly after several MKs dropped out of the race), representatives of specific districts and sectors, a seat reserved for a handpicked candidate from Labor leader Yitzhak Herzog, and the CEO of the party, the race is expected to be tight. 

Several of the Knesset candidates have struck "deals" with fellow MKs, such as the "deal of four" between Eitan Cabel, Arel Margalit, Merav Michaeli and Danny Atar to encourage their voters to choose the other three MKs as well as themselves. 

The Israeli media has already predicted a number of return candidates, including Cabel, Shelly Yechimovich, Itzik Samueli, and Stav Shaffir.

In addition to the existing Knesset members are expected to fit some new names on the list, including a representative of the Arab sector - journalist Zuhair Bahlul - and 24 newcomers.

In an unusual move, the party decided that if it gains more than 15 seats in the Knesset (which polls predict), it will bump the representative of the Kibbutzim movement - newcomer Simi Baron - up the list to the 18th spot.

Party officials claimed that the goal of this process is to bring a Kibbutzim representative higher up the list, and functionally it allows Herzog to keep Baron, as the two are reportedly close.