The number of registered Labor Party members has dropped to 48,000 from 58,000 since Isaac Herzog took over as chairman a year ago, despite his pledge to bring in tens of thousands of new people.
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The party notes, however, that membership forms for some 2,000 applicants have not yet been entered into its database. Still, party sources predict that its rolls will drop another 10 percent to 20 percent when Labor starts collecting membership fees for 2015.
The decline is actually a long-term trend. During Shelly Yacimovich’s tenure as chairwoman from September 2011 to November 2013, the number of members fell to 58,000 from 66,000.
On the eve of the last election for chairman, Herzog criticized Yacimovich for not increasing party membership. But Herzog is having similar problems, even though he announced plans to double if not triple membership. The party, which leads the opposition in the Knesset, had planned a membership drive over the summer but had to forgo it because of the Gaza war.
“The party chairman has passed a series of decisions to ease party registration, including reduced dues for retirees and students,” the party said in a statement.
“These decisions went into effect immediately after Operation Protective Edge, and we are now calling on the public that is sick of this government, which has paralyzed Israel both economically and diplomatically, to join the Labor Party.”
In recent months, Labor has considered ways to portray itself as a potential ruling party. But according to recent polls, Herzog has failed to close the popularity gap with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and if an election were held today, the party would drop to 12 from 15 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.