MK Stav Shaffir on Friday announced her candidacy for Labor leadership, as the beleaguered center-left party seeks to recover from a devastating election result in April when a repeat vote is held later this year.
The lawmaker, who first gained fame for her leading role in the 2011 social justice protests, and who has become popular on the left since entering the Knesset in 2013 for her combative debating style, called to “start anew” ahead of the September 17 national vote and vowed to “build our party so that it can truly fight for an Israel that is democratic, open, equal and just.”
Shaffir thus joined former Labor chairman Amir Peretz who also declared his candidacy this week. Itzik Shmuli, another popular MK, is also expected to run. The party’s No. 2, former army general Tal Russo, is also rumored to be considering throwing his hat in the ring.
The vote for the party’s leadership is set to be held on July 2. The rest of Labor’s slate is expected to remain identical to its line-up for the April elections, averting another full party primary.
Peretz had sought to avoid a primary for party leadership, and hoped to task the party’s central committee members with picking its next chairman, but an internal Labor legal panel shot that notion down this week.
The decision on Thursday was also seen as a blow to former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak. The 77-year-old, who is perennially on the cusp of a political comeback, was working behind the scenes to advance the bid to have the committee pick the next Labor leader as it would improve his prospects of winning, according to Hebrew reports this week.
Current leader Avi Gabbay led the party to its worst ever electoral result of six seats in the last elections and has reportedly told associates that he will not run again for Labor’s top spot.
The much-weakened party’s reputation sustained another beating after it emerged that Gabbay had seriously considered an offer by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join his coalition last week, before turning it down.
Marissa Newman contributed to this report.