Peres Faces Tough Race in Next Month's Labor Party Election

Vice Premier and Labor Party leader Shimon Peres is in danger of being ousted by one of four rivals in the party's oft-postponed primary elections.

, | updated: 01:24

Though the party primaries have been postponed three times recently, it appears that they will actually be held on their currently-scheduled date, June 28. Peres, the current temporary leaders, is said to be in favor of postponing it once again, but his supporters - notably Ministers Chaim Ramon and Dalia Itzik - are not making great efforts to this end.

Among those vying for Peres's job are Peres himself, ex-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who has been campaigning for months and has amassed strong support, Matan Vilnai, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Fuad), and Histadrut Labor Union leader Amir Peretz.

The party's central committee is to meet on Tuesday to confirm the final date of the primaries. The candidates have said publicly that they are in favor of holding the vote as scheduled, warning that Labor must have a leader and be ready for national elections if the Sharon government collapses. None of the candidates seem particulary prepared, however, and campaigning has barely begun.

The party registration campaign is set to end on May 15, at which time a review of all the forms will be conducted. There is evidence that up to 5,000 of the applications may be disqualified. The party had some 112,000 registered members in the last election, two years ago.