JERUSALEM (Apr. 25)
The Liberal Party Central Committee voted overwhelmingly for Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai today to head its slate in the July 23 elections.
Modai won 126 votes in the secret ballot against 89 for his closest rival, Justice Minister Moshe Nissim and seven for Knesset Speaker Menachem Savidor. He is therefore assured of the No. 2 spot on the Likud election list and is likely to be named a Deputy Premier, along with Herut’s David Levy, should Likud win the election and form the next government.
Under a prior agreement by the 240-member Central Committee, Nissim automatically gained the No. 2 spot on the Liberal slate because he garnered more than a third of the vote. Savidor and the other Committee members are vying for “safe” spots on the slate in balloting that is expected to continue well into the night. The first 16 candidates on the slate are considered fairly certain of election to the next Knesset.
The Liberal Party has 18 seats in the present Knesset and Herut has 26. But the two factions that are the main components of Likud are bitterly at odds over a Herut decision earlier this month to “review” their 20 year-old agreement. Herut activists contend that the Liberals are over-represented in proportion to their electoral strength.
The Liberals, who note that neither party has been rested independently at the polls for two decades, have threatened to end their alliance with Herut if the status quo is tampered with before the elections.