Likud candidates might have to fight for their seats again

The Likud party court is going to decide in the coming days if the decision to freeze the Likud list for the coming March elections was legal.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Likud party’s court will decide in the next few days whether primaries for its Knesset list have to be held in addition to the one already set to determine the party leader.

Although the Likud’s Central Committee had voted in favor of annulling such primaries earlier this month, the court heard arguments Tuesday that the majority necessary for such a decision was not reached and that therefore the cancellation was not lawful.

The Likud constitution mandates holding primaries before every election, and the party did so before the April vote. However, before the September rerun, the party’s Secretariat voted to call them off and the Likud court backed their decision in a 3-2 vote.

Such a move could be seen as especially benefiting the spring crop of freshman MKs, considering that they had barely been in office for a month before voting to disband the Knesset. They simply had no chance to build a record on which they could run again.

It could also possibly be seen as benefiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. By freezing in place the party’s list of candidates, Netanyahu hoped to ensure that there would be no rebellion in the lower ranks, observers have argued.

However, in order to cancel primaries according to the Likud’s bylaws, the Central Committee must actually amend the party’s constitution. This kind of amendment requires a two-thirds majority of the Committee. But only some 800 of the 3,700 members came to the Tel Aviv meeting 10 days ago.

Dozens of current and aspiring MKs are now wondering if they are going to have to leap into action in the next few days, as only three weeks remain before the parties must formally register their lists for the March 2020 elections.