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Yesh Atid to hold first leadership vote in party’s 9-year history

Lapid expected to win; unclear if he will be challenged; party also set to announce new method for selecting electoral slate

Yesh Atid party leader Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on November 8, 2021. (Oliiver Fitoussi/Flash90)
Yesh Atid party leader Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on November 8, 2021. (Oliiver Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Yesh Atid party will hold a vote to elect its leader for the first time since it was established in 2012, it was announced Saturday.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is automatically a candidate and is expected to win the election.

Lapid has led Yesh Atid since he founded the party and is set to become premier in 2023 as part of a rotation deal with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Although other candidates can put themselves forward until December 21, so far nobody has said they are interested in challenging Lapid. Only party members will be permitted to run and there are no obvious candidates.

Additionally, any potential limits to the term of the party head have not been reported.

The party will publish new bylaws on Sunday to formally announce the plan.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid during an election campaign tour in Hod Hasharon, March 19, 2021, four days before the election. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Some 1,000 party members will convene to elect a chairman at the party’s first conference on January 4, 2022, according to Hebrew-language reports.

The conference will be made up mainly of field activists, regional directors and factional representatives in local councils.

The bylaws will also define the rights and obligations of party members, the Walla news site reported.

In addition to electing a chairman, there will be a new method to select the party’s slate for elections, which will involve a committee made up of an incumbent or former MK, the party director and two board members. The party will have the right to reserve protected slots on the list.

Until now, the slate has been assembled by Lapid.

The internal elections come after years of criticism from opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and other political rivals, who have frequently needled Lapid and Yesh Atid over the party’s lack of primaries for leader and its election slate, which the former premier’s Likud and a number of other Knesset factions hold.

In September last year, Lapid rejected a call for a leadership vote by then-Yesh Atid lawmaker Ofer Shelah.

Shelah later left the party to start his own political movement ahead of the March election but dropped out during the race. If the reported voting rules are used for Yesh Atid’s next internal election, Shelah would likely be unable to contend.

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