Voting for the Labor Party chair
Voting for the Labor Party chairPhoto: Hezkei Baruch

On Tuesday, the Labor Party will hold primaries for the party list for the November 1st elections for the 25th Knesset.

Each party submits a list of candidates for the Knesset prior to the elections. Because Israeli elections are proportional, the number of Knesset seats awarded to each party depends on the proportion of votes they acquire. Therefore, position of individuals on the party list is of utmost importance. In some parties, the list is set by the party leadership. In others, such as the Labor party, democratic elections known as primaries are conducted among registered party members. Currently, Labor is expected to win about five seats in the next Knesset.

The Israel Hayom newspaper reported that voting in the primaries will take place mostly online, with four polling stations set up for in-person voting in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Be'er Sheva.

According to the party's data, there are approximately 40,000 eligible voters who will be able to choose the 5-7 individuals they want to see on the Labor list from among the 33 who are vying for a spot on the list.

The main battle in the primaries is among the incumbent MKs of the party with few new names trying to get onto the list.

Party chair Merav Michaeli approved the primaries regulations that ensure gender parity. Nominees will be placed on the list in accordance with the number of votes they acquire, alternating between male and female candidates. Therefore, the men will be competing mainly against the men and the women against the women.

Many in the party anticipate that Efrat Reiten, former children’s star and then lawyer, will achieve the highest position among the woman. Emily Moati and Naama Lazimi will likely be competing for the second female position, with Moati generally favored over Lazimi. Moati, a former social activist and television presenter, distinguished herself by her attention to political issues, while Lazimi enjoys the support of former journalist and party chair Shelly Yechimowitz's camp. Lazimi focuses on social issues, such as raising the minimum wage and improving conditions for residents in the periphery of the country, the less infrastructure-endowed Galilee and Negev. Israeli-Arab film producer Ibtisam Mara’ana seems to have little chance of regaining her seat in the Knesset.

Many predict that Reform "rabbi" Gilad Kariv will garner the most votes among the male candidates. Ram Shefa, whose position has grown stronger over the past year within the party, is competing mainly with the current Minister of Public Security, Omer Barlev, who is still valued by party veterans in spite of the controversies in which he was involved during this Knesset term. Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai's position in the party has been declining. Shai’s main challenger for a seat in the next election is former community activist Yaya Fink, who is considered the leading surprise candidate among the non-Knesset members hoping to get a place on the party list.

In the lead-up to the primaries, Labor Party Chair and Minister of Transportation Merav Michaeli said: "Many parties talk about democracy, about its importance, its contribution, and the need to preserve it. Unfortunately, many parties are not run democratically and thus contribute to the weakening and decline of democratic rule. In contrast, the Labor Party is a true democratic party that listens to the voting public and makes decisions conjointly. Labor holds primaries for the leadership of the party and for the list. I wish great success to all the candidates and I am sure that together we will assemble an excellent list for the Knesset."