Knesset member Tamar Zandberg on Thursday announced her candidacy to head Meretz, joining three other candidates in her left-wing party’s first-ever open primaries in March.
The 41-year-old, who has been an MK for Meretz since 2013, said she would “try to lift up the party and the Israeli left from the depressed state into which it has fallen,” adding that her goal would be to win 10 seats in the Knesset in the national elections — a feat that Meretz hasn’t managed for 15 years.
Zandberg is the fourth party member to announce a candidacy, after Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon, faction chairman MK Ilan Gilon, and social activist Avi Dabush.
“After many years in which the right has turned the left into a punching bag,” said Zandberg in a statement, “we are at a crossroads. The right is hated more and more, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is reaching a new low every day, and the people don’t know what to do with the shame this coalition is causing us. It is time for us to raise our heads and return fire.”
Last week, Meretz agreed to hold open primaries for the first time in its history, ending a months-long internal spat within the left-wing party. Galon, who pushed for the move, and Gilon, who resisted it, agreed to a compromise proposal that would allow anyone to sign up as a member of Meretz up to a month before the March 22 primaries and vote for the party’s list.
The compromise agreement also stipulates that a 60 percent majority will be required to make any further changes to party policy.
Galon for months advocated open primaries within the party, and even resigned her Knesset seat in October to concentrate on the effort.
Before the change, Meretz’s primaries were a two-stage process in which party members elected delegates to the party’s top committee, which then selected the Knesset list.
But calls have grown in recent years for the party to do away with the delegate system and switch to more direct primaries, a move that some in the party hope could expand the reach of the shrunken and sidelined political left.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report