Likud primary yields more right-wing Knesset list


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Members of the Likud Party voted out moderate party stalwarts and elected more right-wing candidates to fill the realistic spots on its Knesset list.

Current Education Minister Gideon Saar garnered the most votes in primary election results that were announced late Monday night after two days of voting marred by malfunctions at computerized voting booths in polling stations throughout the country. The primaries extended into a second day to allow all voters an opportunity to cast their ballots. Some 59 percent of party members turned out to vote over the two days. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s name did not appear on the ballot — as the party head, he automatically tops the slate for the Jan. 22 general election.

Government ministers Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, who are party moderates, did not make the top 20 on the party list, which are considered to be places that realistically will be seated in the next government. Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter and Minister Without Portfolio Michael Eitan also failed to hit the top 20.

Since the Likud is running on the same list as Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, every two Likud names on the list will be followed by a Yisrael Beiteinu name.

Moshe Feiglin, who heads the right-wing Manhigut Yehudit — or Jewish Leadership — faction of Likud, placed 15th in the primaries. Feiglin previously has run for the party leadership against Netanyahu, and also has failed to garner a realistic spot on party lists in previous primaries.

Along with Netanyahu and Saar, others in the top 10 of the slate are Gilad Erdan, Silvan Shalom, Yisrael Katz, Danny Danon, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Moshe Yaalon, Zeev Elkin and Tzipi Hotovely. Four women were among the top 20 vote-getters. 

"I respect all the people who found themselves off the list, but it’s a generational thing," Danon, the chairman of World Likud and chair of the Yesha settlers’ council, told Ynet after the final tally. "There is new blood in Likud’s leadership."

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