Colleagues Rally Round Barak

The Labor Party has rallied around its chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The party, the first to sign a coalition agreement with Kadima when Livni was trying to form a government, has found itself dragged, like Livni and Kadima, into early elections.

Barak will be leading the Labor Party to elections in 2009, and no internal machinations to replace him are on the horizon. At a meeting of Labor ministers yesterday, National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer called Barak the most experienced person in the political and defense arenas.

With dire surveys indicating that Barak's Labor Party will win only 12 seats, coupled with the looming budget deficit, the Labor Party will be facing a life-or-death battle in the upcoming elections. It will be fighting for a reasonable achievement in order to maintain its position as a major party. Its unspoken goal is to win at least its current number of seats - 19.

The Labor Party will set a date for primaries after the date for general elections is set. The limited number of viable slots on the list will make it difficult even for current Knesset members, and the party will have trouble attracting new "stars," like it did prior to the 2006 elections.

During the meeting of Labor Party ministers, Barak outlined his strategy for the upcoming elections, which centers around trying to set the Labor Party apart from Kadima and Livni, who has created a public image of a leftist leader and is cutting into Labor's traditional electorate, according to surveys. Barak felt it important to emphasize that the Labor Party, nevertheless, is not afraid of elections, and called on members to act as one.

"The public will recognize our effort, and know that we have the best and the most experienced people in the political arena," he said. Regarding the economic crisis, Barak will work to set the Labor Party apart from Kadima and Likud as a true social-democratic party that counters the Netanyahu-led capitalism.