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This article was first published 17 years ago  » News » Israel Labour vote: Barak gains edge

Israel Labour vote: Barak gains edge

Source: PTI
May 29, 2007 09:22 IST
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In an election considered crucial to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's future, Israel's Labour Party, the second largest faction in the governing coalition, has failed to choose its chairman in the first round of voting.

Based on a count of 99.7 per cent of the votes, former prime minister Ehud Barak, trying to make a political comeback, pulled slightly ahead of his nearest rival Ami Ayalon but neither man appeared poised to win the necessary 40 per cent needed for an outright victory, setting the stage for a June 12 runoff.

Barak has polled 35.7 per cent of the counted votes, compared to Ayalon's 30.7 per cent.

The winner is required to cross the 40 per cent barrier to be elected chairman in the first round.

Defence Minister Amir Peretz, the current chairman, was running in the third position with 23.5 per cent votes while the other two candidates, Ophir Pines-Paz and Danny Yatom, had slightly less than 10 per cent of votes combined.

Opinion polls had put Peretz much below his current score and he is likely to play an important role in the next round of elections.

Both the leading candidates had called for Olmert's resignation in the wake of the Winograd Committee's report probing last year's war against Hezbollah.

Ayalon, a former Shin Bet chief, has said if he is elected the chairman he will seek a change in the Kadima party leadership, failing which he will bolt Olmert's government.

The current coalition government will be reduced to a minority if the Labour Party withdraws support.

Some 65.5 per cent of Labour Party members participated in the polls on Monday.

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