Loss of Mofaz may signal serious blow on a number of levels
Kadima was formed as a center party, but since Olmert’s takeover just after Kadima’s inception, the party has marched steadily left towards Labor & Meretz positions. Olmert’s intent to ram through concessions and talks with traditional enemies like Syria despite near zero public approval, and Livni’s personal stewardship of Palestinian track talks have only cemented the drift.
Half & Half
What gave Kadima unique strength and allowed it to lean left so dangerously was its makeup. Formed with former Labor & Likud MKs, the labor half gave ‘moderation’ legitimacy while the Likud half gave ‘security’ legitimacy. Top of the list in the hawk department was Shaul Mofaz. His departure leaves Livni in a lurch on a number of levels.
He takes with him a massive chunk of the security legitimacy, Livni has zero security knowledge, zero military understanding, and is seen rightly so as a dove. Kadima voters who value old Likud harder lines (we are speaking of half the party) are not necessarily overjoyed or even voting with Kadima going forward now that the Labor / Left wing of the party, is in command. I myself was a Kadima supporter under Sharon, my vote is long gone back to the Likud.
Worse, Mofaz is a hero of the Sephardi component. Being Iranian and hailing from the Likud he carries with him a strong contingent of Mizrahi eastern Jewish support within Israel, and they are livid – citing old Ashkenazi racism within Kadima as a factor in his some 400 vote loss which by all accounts, looked contrived and staged for Livni.
The elation of the Meretz party with Livni is further damaging, NO ONE in Israel of political stripe wants to be associated with the Meretz platform, which is seen as near treasonous these days in the holy land by a great majority of voters. Worse, Meretz represents the Liberal Elite for many, the worst stereotypes of old Ashkenazi racism and power. These things are anathema to Mizrahi Jews who are sizable with heavy voting power.
Livni dropping hints that she may opt to form a coalition with Meretz, Labor & the Arab parties, thus giving her a razor thin 60 or 61 seat majority government (in order in reality to pressure the Mizrahi Jewish based Shas party) is like a race lightning bolt striking Kadima. Combined with the loss of Mofaz (he is shrewd) Livni’s pleas for unity seem like whimpers compared to the rumbling ‘race thunder’ now being loudly heard.
Queen Livni may have to bow
She does not like Mofaz personally, nor does she have solid relations with Mizrahi / eastern Jewry in Israel. This is not an enviable position because on either side..
- Whether it is winning Mizrahi support within Kadima to keep the party relevant seat wise
- Or winning Mizrahi Shas support outside Kadima for coalition purposes
The new ‘Meretz Ashkenazi Queen’ is without them ruling over a very small, even tiny kingdom. Come coalition time, or election time something needs to happen here or the Livni reign will be a short one indeed, worth perhaps 8-10 seats. If this rift widens we may even see Kadima & Labor merge. That may sound insane because Barak & Livni’s relationship is also bordering on blows – But, in the realm of Israeli politics gaining seat numbers is King, and the King trumps even the Queen.