Meretz Primaries: ‘New Faces to Defeat the Right’

January 19, 2015  

The 1,000-member Meretz central committee will choose its list for the 20th Knesset on Monday. 

Primaries are being held at the Exhibition Grounds in Tel Aviv. Voting opened at 2:00 p.m. and will close at 10:00 p.m. As votes are being calculated via a computer, official results should be announced an hour or so after the vote. 

23 candidates are competing for a spot on Meretz’s Knesset list, including 5 current MKs, several formers MKs, and others. 

Chairwoman Zehava Gal-On predicted the far-left party would win ten mandates in the March elections, but recent polls suggest they will only gain five or six seats – similar to their current standing in the 19th Knesset.

According to estimates, incumbents Ilan Gilon, Michal Rozin, Issawi Frej, and Tamar Zandberg will retain their places on the party’s list. Frej is also expected to replace outgoing MK Nitzan Horowitz in third place. 

Gal-On was confirmed as head of the party by the central committee last month after running unopposed. Gilon is expected to maintain his second place position.

Also running for a spot in the top five – the most realistic positions for the party – are former Meretz Knesset members Mossi Raz and Avshalom Vilan. Notable new names include former United States B’Tselem director Uri Zaki, history professor Dr. Ron Shavit, and attorney Gaby Lasky. 

A tight race is expected between Lasky, Raz, Vilan, and Zaki. Lasky also has a chance to win the 9th spot on the party’s list – which is reserved for a woman. The fourth and sixth places are also reserved for women. 

Other candidates, who are not expected to make it to a realistic position, include Jerusalem city councilwoman Laura Wharton, Tom Daromi – the founder and board member of Ofek, Israel’s cooperative bank, and Rabbi Ehud Bandel, the first conservative rabbi to be ordained in Israel. 

Meretz has seen a slight drop in recent polls, likely due to the upswing of Labor-Hatnua led by Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni. 

The party has thus tried to paint itself as being the “real Left” in Israel and a necessary aspect of toppling Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from power. 

On Saturday night, Gal-On said: “Meretz is the only left-wing party in Israel that doesn’t put on a centrist mask and isn’t ashamed of being leftwing, unlike Labor-Hatnua, which is running from being labeled as Left.”

Gal-On suggested that if Meretz wins 10 seats, there will be a “revolution” and Herzog will be the prime minister in a center-left government.

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