Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai won a fifth term at the head of the country’s economic hub with a comfortable lead, managing to repel the onslaught of his former deputy turned opponent, Asaf Zamir.
While 58% of the votes had been counted, Huldai maintained his lead by garnering 45% of the vote against 35% in favor of Amir, who had however managed to close the gap with the incumbent mayor in the polls during these last few weeks.
Zamir admitted defeat on Wednesday morning in a speech to his supporters, saying he was “proud of his own campaign” and vowing to continue working to influence politics in the city.
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Huldai, 74, a popular figure, has served as mayor since 1998 and so far his presence at the helm of Tel Aviv has never been seriously endangered. By law, he will have to step down at the end of his next term, in 2023.
Founder and chairman of the HaIr party, Zamir has emerged from almost total obscurity in recent months since the improbable announcement of his candidacy in the municipal elections, and his presence at the poll had given the possibility of a second round.
According to Israeli law, a candidate for mayor must garner at least 40% of the vote. A second round takes place if necessary with the two candidates leading the votes to decide between them.
Comedian Assaf Harel (13%) and deputy mayor of the Shas party Natan Elnatan (7%) both remain largely behind.
Zamir, 38, had been accused of “patronage capitalism” because of his marriage to actress Maya Wertheimer and his ties to the latter’s grandfather, Stef Wertheimer, a billionaire who founded companies manufacturing tooling and a number of industrial parks and which personally financed part of the municipal campaign.
Huldai, 74, had won by far the last four municipal elections, enjoying 51% to 62% of the vote. The biggest challenge to Huldai rule in the past had been the candidacy of MP Dov Khenin (Hadash) who ran on a platform that had focused on social and environmental issues, draining 34% voices. Huldai himself remained at the head of the municipality with
Huldai was born in 1944 in Kibbutz Hulda in central Israel, from which he takes his name. He had a long career in the military and was the principal of the prestigious Herzliya Gymnasium in Tel Aviv for six years before becoming the mayor of the municipality.
In his post, he tackled major infrastructure projects, such as the total renovation of the promenade next to the beach, and he managed to attract businesses. high-tech in Tel Aviv. However, many residents are distraught with the skyrocketing cost of living and unaffordable property prices.
Huldai, a Labor staunch supporter, garnered strong support from Tel Aviv’s senior minority while managing to hold onto the vote of a large number of younger voters.
On a large number of issues, Zamir and Huldai share the same ideology. Both want lower house prices, better public transportation and make Israel’s most expensive city more accessible.
Mayor of Netanya victorious despite suspicion
In Netanya, longtime mayor Miriam Feirberg-Ikar won a fifth term despite bribery charges against him. Feirberg-Ikar, who drained 50% of the vote, easily beat a number of other candidates by a very comfortable margin, including former MP Yoni Chetboun (28%).
Feirberg-Ikar – who, in 2013, had gathered the astronomical figure of 72% of the vote – is at the heart of a corruption investigation which dates back to 2016. Prosecutors have yet to make the decision to indict him or to drop the charges. accusations.
Hebrew-language media have suggested there may be compelling disparities in the case, which focuses on suspected fraud and breach of trust to the benefit of real estate developers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who backed Feirberg-Ikar, congratulated her on Wednesday morning, saying he was not surprised by the results.
Ungrateful after all these years
After thirty years at the helm of Nahariya, Mayor Jacky Sabag was swept aside by his challenger, Ronen Marley, winning only 23% of the vote against 62% for Marley.
Furious at the announcement of the results, Sabag told his supporters that “unfortunately, after 30 years, I have come to the conclusion that the people of Nahariya are ungrateful”.
Sabag, 74, also had legal setbacks. In 2004, he was convicted of dumping his city’s wastewater into the Mediterranean Sea and was fined
8 000 shekels.
This mayor, who will have remained for three terms, once again caught the attention of the police in July 2018. He was questioned in connection with a case for alleged breach of trust, an investigation which, according to Hebrew media, dates back to 2013 and remains open.
READ – Municipal elections: from the interrogation room to the mayor’s office?