After her narrow win, Livni’s ability to form government in doubt

Foreign minister Tzipi Livni declared herself victor of the Kadima party’s first leadership primary before dawn Thursday, Sept. 18, although her win was challenged by transport Shaul Mofaz, one percent behind her (43 to his 42 percent). All night, he demanded a partial recount in view of election irregularities, claiming there was no more than one vote dividing them – not 431. Early Thursday, Mofaz finally called Livni to congratulate her.
Real results differed dramatically from the three TV exit polls which wrongly awarded Livni a landslide victory, which turned out to be up to 12 percent wide of the mark. Throughout the campaign the foreign minister was a media favorite and inaccurately described as unchallenged successor to Ehud Olmert both as party chair and prime minister.
The final results for Avi Dichter and Meir Sheetrit also reversed the exit polls. Meir Sheetrit came in third with 8.5 percent of the votes; Avi Dichter was last of the four contenders with 6.5 percent.
Kadima comes out of its first election for chairman bitterly divided. Livni faces the daunting dual challenges of uniting the party behind her and persuading all the government coalition parties to accept her as prime minister.
Kadima’s two senior partners, Labor and Shas, are already looking at alternatives.
Outside Kadima, the authority of Olmert’s successor to form and lead a government is widely questioned, given the tiny party she was elected to lead by no more than 20,000 votes. That is less than 1 percent of the general electorate. Many are demanding a general election as soon as possible.
But Kadima sees no reason why the government coalition should not remain in situ under Olmert’s successor. She must prove them right by managing the Herculean task of holding the coalition together and moving into the prime minister’s office in the 40 days initially allotted her.
The low Kadima turnout, according to debkafile‘s political analysts, was a public vote of no-confidence in the party which has led the country since it was founded by Ariel Sharon less than three years ago. At the Tel Aviv stock exchange Wednesday, another popular vote of no-confidence took place – this one in the economic system ruled by Kadima ministers and national financial institutions, especially the banks.
One of several alternatives to a Livni government has been hatched quietly by defense minister Ehud Barak of Labor and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu of Likud in recent weeks, debkafile reported Tuesday. They are in advanced negotiations for a deal to rotate the premiership between them in order to cut the ground from under Kadima’s new chairman. The ultra-religious Shas is in on the plan.
Without Labor, the Kadima leader does not have the numbers to form a viable government. Barak’s Labor and Netanyahu’s opposition Likud combined with Eli Yishai’s Shas hold 43 Knesset seats, compared with Kadima’s 27.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email