Israel’s Labor Party holds primary vote ahead of September election re-run

Israel’s Labor Party will vote for a new leader today after Avi Gabbay announced that he would step down. Mr

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Photo: Reuters

Israel’s Labor Party will vote for a new leader today after Avi Gabbay announced that he would step down.

Mr Gabbay’s move comes following April’s general elections that saw Labor lose more than 75% of its seats.

Israel’s parliament dissolved itself at the end of May after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition following the general elections. Labor is hoping to select a new leader before an election re-run scheduled for September.

The two front-runners for the Labor leadership are Itzik Shmuli and Stav Shaffir. Party polling has both candidates virtually tied. If either fails to gain the largest share of votes, the party will vote in a second-round of voting one week afterwards. Ms Shaffir has pledged to attempt to unify a larger share of Israel’s fractured left through an alliance with former PM Ehud Barak’s new, centrist Blue and White Party.

The past four elections have seen Labor lose a growing share of the national vote to centrist forces. This is a trend that is unlikely to change in the short-term. An alliance of Labor with other left-leaning parties is necessary to give the party any chance of restoring its support among Israeli voters.

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