Shaul Mofaz elected leader of Israel´s Kadima party (TELEGRAPH UK) 03/28/12)
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Israel´s main opposition Kadima party on Tuesday elected Shaul Mofaz
as their new leader in place of Tzipi Livni, preliminary results
showed early Wednesday.
According to an initial sampling of 127 of the 197 ballot boxes,
Mofaz had secured some 65 percent of the vote, compared with Livni´s
35 percent, Israel´s main television and radio stations reported.
Turnout among the party´s 95,000 voters, who began casting their
ballots at 10:00 am (0800 GMT) on Tuesday, was 45 percent.
Pundits had predicted a very tight race between Livni and her deputy,
but the preliminary results showed Mofaz taking a decisive lead.
Kadima is currently the largest party in parliament, holding 28 seats
in the 120-seat Knesset, but a series of recent polls suggest the
faction is likely to see that number halved in the next elections.
Those elections are officially tabled for October 2013, but rumours
of an early election are rife, with observers speculating they could
take place before the end of this year.
Tuesday´s primary vote pitted Livni, Kadima´s current leader and
former foreign minister, against her deputy Mofaz, an Iranian-born
former army chief-of-staff who once held the defence portfolio.
Both are former members of the now-ruling right-wing Likud party of
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The two have been bitter rivals since they fought a very tight
leadership race during the last primaries in September 2008 which saw
Livni winning the vote by just 413 votes and replacing scandal-
plagued premier Ehud Olmert as party head.
Despite his rich history of military experience, Mofaz has spent only
10 years in politics, although he currently heads the powerful
parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defence.
Speaking to reporters as he cast his vote earlier on Tuesday, the 63-
year-old said he was ready to take on Netanyahu.
"The Kadima primaries are a vote on the future, on the character and
the values of the state of Israel," he said.
"At the end of this day, Kadima will set out on a new path as an
alternative to the poor government of Netanyahu. I intend to win at
the general elections and to replace Netanyahu."
Kadima was founded in November 2005 by former prime minister Ariel
Sharon who took leave of his political home in Likud after his
controversial decision to pull all settlers and troops out of the
It has since grown to become Israel´s largest party, but has taken a
hammering in the polls over what commentators say has been a failure
to present a concrete alternative to Netanyahu and his right-wing
While most Israeli commentators were unsure who would win the race,
they were unanimous that the primary vote was likely to mark the end
of Kadima as Israel´s biggest party, saying the outcome would see it
"For some time Kadima has not been an alternative to the government.
According to the polls, its public standing - whether headed by Livni
or by Mofaz - is at a nadir," wrote commentator Sima Kadmon in the
top-selling Yediot Aharonot.
"It is the largest party in the Knesset, and it has zero influence,"
she said, noting that whoever takes the helm will have to try and
restore Kadima to its former standing.
"With Livni or with Mofaz, it is highly doubtful that that is
possible." Source: agencies (© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group
Limited 2012. 03/28/12)
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