Female journalist elected as new leader of Israel's Labour party

Shelly Yachimovich

Shelly Yachimovich

A former journalist and television presenter has been chosen as the next leader of Israel's Labour party.

Shelly Yachimovich triumphed over former Defence Minister Amir Peretz on Wednesday with 54 percent of the vote.

Ms Yachimovich, 51, has been in politics for just six years and before that hosted various current affairs programmes.

In Israel's early years Labour was the dominant political force but the last decade has seen its popularity plummet. In January a group of Labour politicians led by Ehud Barak broke away to form a new centrist party.

Ms Yachimovich, who is known for her emphasis on economic and social issues, said it was time to "rebuild the state of Israel in the spirit of justice, of responsibility of the state toward its citizens and of striving for equality".

She added: "The Labour party built the state of Israel...it is time for her to rebuild the state of Israel again."

The Labour party has only had one female leader before now – former Prime Minister Golda Meir.

Last updated: 9:42am, September 22 2011