High Voter Turnout for Labor's Second Primary This Week

MK Yechimovitz calls on Labor leaders to save party expected to suffer humiliating defeat in Feb. election.

A 50% voter turnout was recorded at the Labor Party primary by late Thursday evening, an unexpectedly high turnout.

Labor party members voted on Thursday at 175 polling stations that opened throughout Israel from midday and will remain open until 22:00.

In Arab and Druze areas, a 30-40 percent turnout was reported by late afternoon, but the percentage was expected to rise towards the end of the voting.

MK Shelly Yechimovitz cast her vote on Tel Aviv's Zamenhof Street, where she called on the Labor leaders to save their party.

"Precisely because of the tough crisis, the crowds came to the polling stations and voted for a strong and principled list that can handle the battle to save the party and make it succeed," she said.

Earlier Thursday, National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said the party could garner 25 mandates in the upcoming general election.

"The most important thing is that the Labor party will pursue a new path from today, a path that will end in 25 mandates, after we present the best list," said Ben-Eliezer, a former party chairman, speaking at a Rishon Letzion polling station.

When Labor first tried to hold its primary this week, it proudly touted its pioneering use of a new computer touch-screen voting system. But just three hours into the voting, the system crashed, delaying the primary until Thursday, when party members began choosing candidates for a Feb. 10 parliamentary election expected to hand Labor a humiliating defeat. This time, voters were using paper ballots.