The press conference on Monday in which Labor MKs Eitan Cabel and Erel Margalit declared their support for MK Isaac Herzog’s bid for the Labor Party chairmanship added some spice to the otherwise moribund primary campaign. Herzog intends to challenge Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich in the November 21 vote to determine who will lead the party for the next three years.
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But within hours after the briefing, Yacimovich presented her own impressive show of support: Five Labor MKs announced they will back her.
“The Labor Party has suffered in recent years from incessant struggles that have weakened and hurt us and our ability to be an alternative” to the parties in power, said MK Avishay Braverman, who declared his support for Yacimovich. “During a period of intense economic, social and diplomatic crisis we need to present a clear ideological alternative.”
If Herzog wins the primary he will be Labor’s seventh head in 12 years.
Is Yacimovich set to make history and win a second consecutive term in a party that has consistently eliminated its party leaders? Party workers couldn’t say.
“There’s no way to take reliable polls in the party and so we are incapable of knowing the real balance of power between Yacimovich and Herzog,” an official close to the Herzog camp said Tuesday.
MKs affiliated with Yacimovich were confident that she will prevail.
“Yacimovich is very popular,” said one. “You can feel it in the field. Labor members love her and conduct discussions with her that are sometimes fervent but fruitful.”
A figure who is close to Yacimovich said Herzog “has a serious problem: The members want quiet. They want to see a joining of forces and shared effort rather than confrontation and divisions. Many in the field feel this election campaign is unnecessary.”
But members of Herzog's circle said he could beat Yacimovich.
“There is no doubt that Shelly is strong,” said one. “She’s far from politically dead despite her failure in the [last general] election, but the rules of the game since the last [campaign] have changed.” Associates of Herzog said Labor’s poor performance in the January election - it received fewer votes than political newbie Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party. They also noted that Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini, who supported Yacimovich in the last primary, is supporting Herzog in this one.