Around 1,000 committee delegates for the left-wing Meretz party will on Thursday vote for a new leader, choosing between incumbent party head Tamar Zandberg and former MK Nitzan Horowitz.
On July 11 the delegates will vote for the rest of the slate for the September 17 elections.
On Thursday, Zandberg called for stability in Meretz while praising the return of Horowitz, who served as a Knesset member from 2009 to 2015, to the party.
“Nitzan Horowitz is an excellent lawmaker and he is an excellent addition to the list,” she told the Kan public broadcaster. “But I think that Meretz must continue the path we started with a proud and clear left-wing example of Jewish-Arab partnership, rather than broadcasting a message of ousting the leadership two months before the elections.”
A poll broadcast Wednesday by Channel 13 news found that if elections were held now rather than in September, Meretz would jump from four seats to six.
Zandberg and Horowitz are the only two candidates for the party leadership after MK Issawi Frej and former lawmaker Mossi Raz dropped their joint bid to head the party and threw their support behind Zandberg.
In the party’s open primaries before the April elections, held in February, a resounding 86 percent of the left-wing faction’s members, some 21,000 people, voted at 131 polling stations across the country.
But ahead of the September elections, Meretz made the decision to hold a committee vote to appoint a new leader after 60% of the party voted against motions to hold open primaries or to freeze the current list.
The decision was seen as a failure for Zandberg, and for the current crop of candidates, whose posts are now in jeopardy.
Meretz narrowly crossed the electoral threshold in the last election, receiving 3.7% of the national vote and winning four Knesset seats.
The party is said to be mulling a merger with the center-left Labor Party ahead of the September elections.