Mofaz’s “time out” after Livni victory opens up breach in Kadima
Transport minister Shaul Mofaz’s announcement of time out from politics and his public duties after he lost the Kadima leadership primary to foreign minister Tzipi Livni by a single percent has seriously divided the party. His supporters claim he was treated unfairly by the party and media, all of which promoted Livni and impugned his credibility.
The many Mofaz loyalists who are uncomfortable with the foreign minister’s views and personality may drift out of the party – some returning to Likud. Kadima which went into the election top-heavy looks like losing the few soldiers (only 74,000 registered voters) it had.
Her party’s shrinkage further compounds the already daunting task facing the new Kadima chairwoman in taking over the incumbent government from Ehud Olmert, who is committed to quit after the primary, or forming a new coalition.
In addition to certain balloting irregularities, Mofaz’s supporters claim the contest was tipped against him by the half-hour extension of voting demanded by Livni to perk up the low turnout.
Most of all, the release of the exit polls by all three TV newsreels while balloting was still progress, broke all the rules. Those polls proclaimed the foreign minister the winner by a landslide of up to 12 percent.
By announcing he would not serve in the Knesset or accept a cabinet post, Mofaz, former chief of staff and defense minister, is declaring he does not accept Livni’s leadership. However time-out is not quite resignation and, depending who forms the next government, he may be back.