Following a blitz, 6-week primary campaign for Habayit Hayehudi party chairman he announced March 8, on Thursday night, April 27, Naftali Bennett retained and enhanced his control over the party with 80.03% of the vote.
The runner-up, Col. (Res.) Yonatan Branski, received only 12% of the votes, after some have predicted he could take as much as 25%.
The third contender, Rabbi Yitzchak Zaga, took only 7%.
The core of the ideological disagreement between Bennett and Branski was the chairman’s efforts to bring his Religious Zionist party closer to the secular center, where several parties traditionally compete for about 20% of the votes coming from the unaffiliated. Branski wants to retain the party’s traditional path, but, as was made clear Thursday, the vast majority of those party members who bothered to come out and vote – about 50% of the members – endorse Bennett’s strategy.
Although 50% is not exciting as voter turnouts go, considering the fact that this primary was being conducted without the motivating factor of a coming national election, the turnout is not too shabby.
A Source at Habayit Hayehudi pointed out that when Benjamin Netanyahu competed against Moshe Feiglin for the party leadership in Likud, only about 40% of the members showed up.
Naftali Bennett thanked his activists for his huge victory, which was made possible, he said, “only because you gave your whole being for it and didn’t give up on a single vote.”
He also said the party looks ready to unite the nation and lead.