Sleepy Campaign for Histadrut Chief Crawls to a Close

Some 500,000 members of the labor federation will be eligible to vote. Women members can also vote in a separate ballot for the leadership of the Na'amat women's organization.

Ophir Bar-Zohar
Ophir Bar-Zohar
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Ophir Bar-Zohar
Ophir Bar-Zohar

The Histadrut election campaign is drawing to a close, with the vote for the labor federation's chairman and institutions scheduled for tomorrow. Labor MK Eitan Cabel is challenging incumbent Ofer Eini for the top spot, even though his party is supporting Eini.

Some 500,000 members of the labor federation will be eligible to vote. Women members can also vote in a separate ballot for the leadership of the Na'amat women's organization.

More than 9,000 people will be manning and overseeing 2,048 polling stations in neighborhoods and workplaces, including over 250 mobile polls that will be moving to different locations during the day. Final results will only be known later in the week.

Though there have been campaign posters on billboards and buses, the campaign has been rather dull, and most observers believe the election will not bring any dramatic changes.

Cabel castigated Eini for refusing to debate him. "That's the strategy that Ofer Eini thinks serves him best, but the truth is he's afraid to confront me," Cabel said.

Cabel rejected the notion that he won't be able to beat Eini. He recalled the recorded message Labor party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich sent out to all party members, in which she said her support for Eini was not just a matter of party loyalty, but that she supported him "personally and ideologically."

"They pressured her and Shelly sent out a supportive message," Cabel said. "Is that something you do against someone who has no chance? They went to Rabbi Ovadia [Yosef] to get a blessing; they spent millions; they didn't leave a single bulletin board in this country uncovered. He's totally hysterical."

Yacimovich appeared at a support rally for Eini yesterday and repeated her call to vote for him.

"The 2013 budget is looking to be the toughest of the past decade," she said. "The Histadrut is the body that will hold the most power and influence in its struggle against the Finance Ministry on the public's behalf."

Because Eini has spoken little during the campaign, Cabel sent supporters with a video camera to pester Eini with questions about contract workers who reportedly cleaned his home and about the fact that the chairman of the Histadrut elections committee is on his list. Eini refused to answer any questions.

For another video, Cabel recruited writer Gal Uchovsky, actors Nana Schreier and Doron Tsabari and soccer player Michael Zandberg to express their support for him, although only Tsabari is actually a Histadrut member. Both videos posted on YouTube got only a few hundred views each.

Eini confidants say Cabel's campaign efforts did him in. "Cabel's campaign provokes us and almost every day sends people to try to drive Eini crazy," one Eini supporter said. "If Cabel had been busy trying to recruit workers and workers' committees to his side instead of with gimmicks ... perhaps he could have developed an image as a worthy candidate."

Histadrut head Ofer Eini.Credit: Moti Milrod

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