Whither Kadima? (JEWISH PRESS) By:Jeremy Saltan 03/29/12)
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Shaul Mofazís victory over Tzipi Livni in Kadimaís leadership race
was not surprising to most political insiders, though few predicted
the landslide 61.7% to 37.2% victory.
Momentum, a key political element in any election, was clearly on
Mofazís side. Following MK Avi Dichterís decision to withdraw from
the primary and endorse Mofaz, the election became the two-person
race Mofaz desired. Some of Livniís closest political allies saw the
writing on the wall earlier in the process and moved to Mofazís camp
two months before the vote. The final straw was Faction Chairwoman
Dalia Itzikís decision to support Mofaz, giving him a clear advantage
with Kadimaís 28 MKs, 15-13.
The fate of the remainder of Livniís camp is up in the air. Livniís
closest allies have stressed throughout the process that Livni will
go home if she loses. Last night she lost but has yet to announce her
resignation, saying only that she will spend the next few days
contemplating her political future.
In the last two weeks before the election, rumors spread that Livni
has the additional six MKs needed to break off from Kadima and form
her own party. Livni has kept silent on these rumors. MK Schneller
gave an interview to Israel National News in which he charged that
Livni would join Labor after she broke away with her handful of MKs.
Although Livni has relied on former MK heavyweights such as Tzachi
Hanegbi, Haim Ramon and Omri Sharon, six of the current MKs
supporting her are rookie MKs, many of whom have little name
recognition. With Kadima slipping in the polls, it is no coincidence
that these backbench Kadima MKs are pushing Livni behind the scenes
to create a new political home.
Livni has always argued that she is more popular in the general
public than she is with Kadimaís rank and file. Many polls over the
last three years support that assertion. Livni could argue that Mofaz
was elected leader of Israelís largest political party with a mere
23,987 votes, a far cry from the 758,032 votes Kadima gathered in the
2009 election. Livni may decide to use this logic to split from
Kadima, and stress that Mofaz only has the support of around 3% of
Livni must decide on her first step. If she comes up short on the
number of MKs needed to break away or if she decides against a split,
she will most likely resign rather than stay on under Mofazís
leadership. Whether or not Livni leaves, Kadima will break into two
camps- those who will support Mofaz and those who will try to find
another political home. If Livni departs, a leader of the anti-Mofaz
camp will emerge, and the group of Kadima MKs he/she leads will
likely act as rebellious MKs until they are permitted to leave.
With so many possibilities, only one thing is for certain Ė Kadimaís
internal struggles are far from over. (© 2012 JewishPress. 03/29/12)
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