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Lupolianski is capital´s first Haredi mayor - Religious parties now hold 18 of 31 seats on council (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Jonathan Lis 06/05/03)Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=300645&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Ultra-Orthodox candidate and acting Mayor Uri Lupolianski (Degel Hatorah) overcame independent businessman Nir Barkat to emerge yesterday as Jerusalem´s mayor for the next five years. Lupolianski won 51.39 percent of the ballots cast in the mayoral election in the capital on Tuesday, while Barkat mustered the support of 42.49 percent of the voters.

Tuesday´s voter turnout was the lowest ever recorded in the capital, at 38.02 percent, as opposed to 42.32 percent in the municipal election in 1998.

As expected, the low turnout characterized the city´s secular and traditional population, which sent only around 50 percent of its voters to the polls. Jerusalem´s ultra-Orthodox residents also disappointed on election day, despite estimates that more than 90 percent of them would cast ballots. Just 70 percent of the ultra-Orthodox turned out to vote.

According to the latest voting tally, the mayor-elect received 90,090 votes (some 7 percent of which came from the secular population); Barkat won the support of 74,550 voters; while Likud candidate Yigal Amedi mustered only 5,656 votes.

The three other candidates in the race - Yossi Talgan, Roni Aloni and Larissa Gerstein - will not serve on the city´s new council, after failing to win enough votes for a seat.

Results from a few more polling stations, including ballots cast by soldiers and the disabled, will be published within the next few days, but aren´t expected to substantially change the figures.

The election results mean that the composition of the Jerusalem City Council has changed, with the ultra-Orthodox and religious factions significantly boosting their representation with four more seats: Degel Hatorah with nine seats, Shas with five councillors, and the National Religious Party with four representatives will hold 18 of the 31 seats on the council.

On the other hand, the Likud saw its representation on the council drop from the three seats won by former mayor Ehud Olmert´s list to two; while the Labor Party, which was represented in the past by Teddy Kollek´s One Jerusalem faction, failed to make it past the election threshold and won´t send any representative to the council.

Meretz and Shinui, the two secular parties running in the elections to the city council, suffered the biggest downfall. Whereas the outgoing council included seven representatives from Meretz and Arnon Yekutieli´s Jerusalem Now list, Tuesday´s vote, which played down the Haredi-secular conflict, left Meretz and Shinui with just five council seats.

In the early hours of yesterday morning, after the extent of his victory became clear, Lupolianski turned up at his election headquarters in the Malkha neighborhood to address his supporters.

"I feel that things have come full circle today. One can say that in 1967, the city was united and joined together; in 2003, its residents have been united," the mayor-elect said, directing his words at those in the city who fear an ultra-Orthodox takeover.

Lupolianski expressed his desire yesterday for a broad coalition that will include the Meretz faction as well. The secular party´s elected councillors have not ruled out the possibility. Shinui, on the other hand, announced before the elections that it would not join a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties.

Members of Barkat´s Yerushalayim Tatzliach (Jerusalem Will Succeed) faction convened yesterday to formulate their opening positions in preparation for coalition talks. Barkat, who will be sending six representatives to the city council, now heads the second-largest faction in the Jerusalem Municipality.

After leaving his management post at the BRM venture capital fund some six months ago, Barkat said yesterday that he would be devoting all his time to his activity on the Jerusalem council, without pay. He said he would only join the municipal coalition if Lupolianski adopted the comprehensive work program he has put together for running the city.

"The results of the elections prove that the Jerusalem public was not familiar enough with me. We have made significant achievements in the elections. While 43 percent did indeed cast their votes for me, my body of supporters was higher than 50 percent." (© Copyright 2003 Ha´aretz 06/05/03)

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