Tzipi Livni wins Kadima leadership primary – three TV exit polls

Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, 50, was awarded 47-48-49 percent of a scant 50 percent of Kadima’s registered voters (34,000), compared with 37 percent won by her closest rival, transport minister Shaul Mofaz.
Outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert promised to hand over to the winner of the Kadima primary Wednesday Sept. 17 and face the corruption probes lined up against him.
Because of the low turnout during the day, Wednesday, Sept. 17, balloting was extended by an extra half hour.
Internal security minister Avi Dichter came third with 8 percent of the vote, one point ahead of Meir Sheetrit.
Many politicians outside Kadima question the authority of Olmert’s successor in Kadima to form and lead a government, given the tiny party she was elected to lead by no more than 34,000 votes. That is less than 1 percent of the general electorate. Many are demanding a general election as soon as possible.
Kadima sees no reason why the government coalition should not remain in situ under Livni instead of Olmert. Its member-parties are unlikely to agree to serve under her unconditionally. Therefore, Kadima’s new leader will not be able to hold the coalition together and move into the prime minister’s office in the 90 days allotted her.
The low Kadima turnout, according to debkafile‘s political analysts, was a public vote of non-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.
The big banks in particular took a beating.
One of several alternatives to a government headed by Livni has been hatched quietly by defense minister Ehud Barak of Labor and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu of Likud, debkafile reported Tuesday. They have been 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.
If Labor bolts, the Kadima leader does not have the numbers to form a viable government. Barak’s Labor and Netanyahu’s Likud combined with Eli Yishai’s Shas hold 43 Knesset seats, compared with Kadima’s 27.

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