Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz face off in Kadima leadership primary (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Ophir Bar-Zohar 03/27/12)
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The moment of truth has come for Kadima. This morning at 10 A.M.
around 200 polling stations will open across the country and 95,000
party members will choose Kadima´s leader for the next national
elections. The primaries pit the party´s chairperson for the past
three and a half years, Tzipi Livni, against MK Shaul Mofaz, and the
contest could be decided by a razor-thin margin.
The moral of the primaries´ story will become clear only after
results are announced early Wednesday morning: either Mofaz´s
supporters will have delivered the goods, or party independents will
have turned up en masse at the polling stations to ensure that Livni
continues in her current role.
"We´ve reached the moment of truth," Mofaz declared on Monday. "I
feel confident, but we can´t be apathetic. I hear the forecasts about
a low turnout at the polls, and I call upon all party members - come
and vote! Come take part in the process of change; this must happen
on Tuesday because we won´t have another chance."
In a recorded message, Livni called on party members to support
her: "This is a struggle for all of us - Israelis, Zionists who want
to live and raise our children in an advanced, free country. Should
we let despair and apathy keep us at home, we are liable to wake up
in the morning and find a leader who doesn´t really represent and
doesn´t really promise a change from Netanyahu."
Basing an estimate on past experiences with primaries, Kadima can
expect 40%-50% voter turnout on Tuesday. Insiders believe that a low
turnout will help Mofaz, whereas Livni has a fighting chance should
turnout approach 50%.
Since rain is forecast for various areas Tuesday, the weather could
discourage party regulars from turning up at polling stations. Nor
will the railway strike help.
Kadima voters are registered to vote close to their homes, but the
railroad strike could disrupt daily schedules and minimize the amount
of free time party members have to vote.
In recent days, the candidates and MKs in their camps have been
canvassing intensely, trying to sway wavering party members. Livni
has camped and worked the phones in her Tel Aviv headquarters,
whereas Mofaz has done the same from an office in Yehud.
MKs and party activists have used long lists of party members, and
taken notes next to each name - they have noted whether a given
person intends to turn up to vote, or needs a ride, or needs
Both the Livni and Mofaz camps believe the canvassing has gone well,
but it´s quite possible that a fair share of the party members tell
the politicians on the phone what they believe the callers want to
One MK mentioned that party members sometimes take advantage of the
opportunity to bring up requests. "Somebody just asked me to fix him
up with a job in the future. I told him I can´t make any promises.
Half an hour ago, a pensioner told me he lives on national insurance
payments, and has trouble making ends meet - he asked us to help him.
In the non-Jewish sector, this phenomenon is more widespread," the MK
Beyond the specific question of whether Livni or Mofaz will take the
reins, there looms the larger issue of the party´s future. Will
Kadima remain united, or divide into two camps? Or will the loser
simply quit the party?
Mofaz has announced he plans to remain in Kadima no matter what
happens, but Livni has refrained from making such a promise. Persons
close to her say she hasn´t discussed the possibility of a loss; and
at this stage they aren´t asking about such a scenario. When asked by
journalists what would happen should she lose the primary balloting,
Livni refused to respond. Insiders, however, speculate that she would
not remain in a Kadima party led by Mofaz, but would remain in
politics. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 03/27/12)
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