Let´s get this show on the road (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Dan Margalit 05/03/12)
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Election campaigns are like a military march: Once they get going,
there is no stopping them. Up until the very last minute, ministers
and MKs were making straw man arguments, saying that Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu really wanted to complete his entire term in
office or at least four full years. The prime minister had no choice
but to say this, otherwise parliamentary life would have turned into
a nightmare by mid-year, and the rapidly dwindling treasury would
have been called upon to pay the price.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon
and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (all from the Likud party),
and even yours truly, all believed that there was no escaping early
elections, that waiting until the end of 2013, the predetermined
election date, was a pipe dream, as was next February or even this
October. Ever since the problematic prisoner exchange deal that saw
Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit released from Hamas captivity last
October, Netanyahu´s poll numbers have soared. An added incentive to
go to the polls was the rapid decline of Kadima.
At least we´re no longer in suspense. Every political player and
every outside observer now knows what the national political agenda
will be for the next four months. There will be two stages to the
election campaign. The first stage consists of drafting Knesset
lists, which will prove especially difficult for the larger parties --
Likud, Labor and Kadima -- because of the havoc-wreaking process of
primaries. The primaries often deal a heavy blow to the parties,
turning into a bloody battlefield.
The Likud´s primary elections will be especially tough. Right-wing
members will try to undermine senior players like Dan Meridor, whom
Netanyahu needs to help position the party closer to the center.
Netanyahu also needs a number of good, honest right-wingers in order
to keep his base among the settlers and their supporters.
Several mysteries, however, still persist. The most interesting is
which way Minister Without Portfolio Benny Begin will go. He emerged
as an appeaser of the Right, then clashed with settlers in outposts
due to his distinctive attitude toward the primacy of rule of law, a
reminder of his father, Menachem Begin.
We can expect to see an especially fierce battle within Kadima.
Kadima MKs have resigned themselves to the fact that the party, which
currently holds the most Knesset seats, will decline. The question is
how steeply? Kadima will lose several seats to Labor Party Chairwoman
Shelly Yachimovich and several more to There Is a Future party leader
Yair Lapid. Recently deposed Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni may also
pose a threat -- no one can fail to notice the media pressure on her
to join forces with Lapid. She may have lost the Kadima primary, but
she still holds a lot of political clout.
There is a long road ahead. There will be ups and downs in the polls.
Every week a new political analysis emerges, contradicting the
previous one. It will be fascinating to see the outcome of the
individual parties´ elections -- Yisrael Beitenu, Shas and even
But two dramatic personal stories, situated at either end of the
political spectrum, stand out: those of Ehud Barak and Aryeh Deri.
Can they do it? How many votes will they get? Will it be worth it?
This should be fascinating to follow. A battle for survival. Let´s
get the show on the road.
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