Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu easily retained his control of the Likud Wednesday, decimating MK Danny Dannon, the sole contender for the party leadership willing to take on the powerful incumbent in the primary.
As of this morning, only 25 percent of the votes had been counted and final results were expected later in the afternoon; counting had grinded to a halt after the computers the party had used to hold the ballot failed, forcing the party to switch to manual vote counting.
Initial numbers indicated that ministers Gilad Erdan and Yisrael Katz, and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein were neck-to-neck for the no. 2 spot of the party list, with Netanyahu taking the no. 1 spot with ease.
The party also voted on Netanyahu’s request to reserve the number 11 and 23 spots on their Knesset list for personal appointments of his choosing, preferably external candidates that can bolster the Likud’s attractiveness to potential voters.
The Likud primary elections, which will determine how the Likud’s Knesset list for the March 2015 elections will look like, came to an end at 10pm Wednesday and the 600 polling stations across the country started reporting their results to the control center in Tel Aviv. Voter turnout was at 55 percent.
An hour after the polls closed, MK Danny Danon announced his expected loss to Prime Minister Netanyahu in the race for the party’s leadership.
“So far, the results indicate that Prime Minister Netanyahu has succeeded in the elections,” Danon told reporters. “I congratulate the prime minister and wish him luck.”
He went on to say the party will “work together towards the Likud’s victory in the elections. We’ll work together as a united party against the left, against Herzog and Livni.”
Throughout the day, party representatives were concerned of the low voter turnout compared to the previous primaries (50 percent voter turnout in the 2012 primaries), but MK Tzachi Hanegbi said that “the voting rates reflect the results we usually get in elections. Tens of thousands came, left everything, and took part in the formulation and leadership of the ruling party. I’m convinced we’ll have a diverse list with experienced people, senior ministers, alongside people who will reflect the renewal in every political movement that wants to keep going.”
There are 95,000 eligible voters in the Likud party. The delegates were required to mark 11 names of candidates on their voting form for the national list, and add one representative for the district they’re from. The first 22 spots on the list have 5 places reserved for district representatives. Ynet News