Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to mark a landslide victory in Tuesday's Likud primaries and run as the ruling party's leader in the next Knesset elections.
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The Likud's 500 ballots, in 154 locations, opened nationwide at 10 am. Voting is scheduled to end at 10 pm, and the party expects to be able to announce a clear winner at midnight. Some 130,000 people, who have been Likud members for at least 16 months, are eligible to vote. The party members will also elect a new Likud Central Committee.
PM Netanyahu casts vote (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
After casting his vote in Jerusalem, Netanyhau said: "I am asking Likud members to vote for me; if people stay at home, they will not give an expression to the huge level of support for my leadership."
Despite Netanyahu's pleas, by 12:45 pm only 4,500 Likud members – or 3% of all registered voters – had cast their ballots. But as of 3 pm, 14% of all eligible voters had cast their ballots.
Feiglin said after casting his vote that he is running for party chairmanship because "those who believe are not afraid to compete, and all Likud members have the ability to express their opinion on whether they want a Jewish state or another Arab state."
Likud's Tel Aviv headquarters, Tuesday (Photo: Boaz Fyler)
Speaking to reporters, he complained that many Likud members from the West Bank are unable to vote in the primary elections in the absence of a electoral register. "Things have been done to prevent our supporters from casting their ballots. I hope the problem has been rectified," he said.
Despite the fact that Netanyahu is a clear favorite, his supporters held rallies throughout the country and sent automated messages to thousands of Likud members urging them to vote.
The PM's camp fears a low voter turnout, which would artificially inflate the strength of the far-Right camp within the ruling party.
"I urge you to vote and elect me to another term because it is important for the country," Netanyahu said in the automated message sent to Likud members.
Hardliner Feiglin, who heads the Jewish Leadership movement, said earlier this week "my eventual victory will be based, among other things, on these primaries. I have no idea what the results will be, but nothing will surprise me."
Netanyahu's campaign chief, Modi'in Mayor Haim Bibas, said "Likud members who will arrive at the polling stations will reflect the public's support for the prime minister."
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