(JTA) — Israel’s Labor Party elected former journalist Shelly Yachimovich as its new leader.
The 41-year-old Yachimovich, a Knesset member known for her advocacy on socioeconomic issues, won Wednesday’s runoff election against Amir Peretz, a fellow Knesset member who served a stint as the party’s leader from 2005 to 2007.
Yachimovich beat Peretz with 54 percent of the vote to Peretz’s 45 percent. They had been the top two finishers in a Sept. 12 party primary that resulted in the runoff.
Yachimovich will be the first woman since Golda Meir to lead Labor.
A recent Haaretz poll suggested that Labor led by Yachimovich is likely to win 22 Knesset seats in the next election, taking six seats from the centrist Kadima Party.
In the 2008 national elections, Labor won only 13 seats with Ehud Barak at its helm. Barak, Israel’s defense minister, bolted Labor in January with four other Knesset members so he could remain in the current governing coalition.
After Barak’s defection, the remaining members of Labor promptly split with the Likud-led government and headed into the opposition. Labor has had an acting leader in the interim.