Cheers arose at The Tzipi Livni Party campaign closing event in Tel Aviv Tuesday
night as Channel 2’s exit polls showed the party with seven seats in the
Slightly beating expectations from the last poll, which put
the party at six, activists maintained a positive outlook, chanting,
“Revolution!” and promising that the numbers would only go up.
just the beginning,” said one activist.
The crowd allowed itself an extra
moment of glee when the projections showed Shaul Mofaz’s Kadima Party
obliterated, not passing the two-seat threshold. Mofaz successfully ousted Livni
from Kadima in a primary last year.
“I am back to stay,” Livni reassured
the crowd. “And I will stay to complete the mission we took upon
Praising the party for racking up a quarter of a million
votes in only eight weeks of campaigning, she added, “We are here in order to
advance the bloc and build an alternative, and that’s what happened this evening
in Israel, and nobody can take that from us or anyone else.”
the middle of an election day packed with campaign stops and phone calls,
visiting polls from Ashdod to Ramat Hasharon and, of course, voting, Livni
stopped at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital to welcome the newborn baby of Merav
Cohen, the ninth candidate on her party’s list.
“This wonderful baby
symbolizes what we’re fighting for – the decisions that need to be made deal
with life and death, with peace and, God forbid, even war,” said Livni, who had
accompanied Cohen to the hospital when she went into labor the night before
elections. “Those decisions and these elections will affect these babies and
The theme of rebirth is fitting for Livni, who led Kadima
to an electoral victory in the last election only to fail in coalition
negotiations, get ousted from her own party, quit politics altogether, and
finally attempt a comeback with a new party. On Tuesday, her campaign’s
Obama-esque slogan of hope permeated the party: hope that they could make a
difference, hope for another chance, and hope for beating the latest
Casting her ballot at the Yisgav School near her home in northern
Tel Aviv, Livni said, “I put in that envelope my hopes – not just my personal
ones, but the ones for the State of Israel as a whole.”
photographers asked her to flash her pearly whites for the cameras as she put
her ballot into the box, however, she wryly replied: “I’ll smile when the polls
Stopping by her campaign headquarters to call volunteers in her
party, she said, “The elections are not a reality program. We don’t take chances
with our children.”
The party list’s No. 3, Amir Peretz, said the day
would be a “Yom Kippur”-style day of atonement for the country’s pollsters. A
former defense minister whose investment in the Iron Dome rocket defense system
has restored some shine to his lackluster reputation in that position, Peretz
cast his ballot in his hometown of Sderot, which has been beleaguered by Gazan
“Just as I looked further ahead of anyone and insisted on the
Iron Dome, I am looking ahead and seeing the connection with Tzipi Livni,” he
The party ran on a platform of peace, putting a deal with the
Palestinians front and center.
“Although the word ‘peace’ has been
considered a forbidden word in recent years, I am convinced that peace is
achievable,” said Meir Sheetrit, fifth on the party’s list, after voting in
Yavne. “It’s our opportunity to end our political isolation and to cut our
defense budget in favor of developing Israel in all spheres: education, economy,
trade and manufacturing, developing the Negev and Galilee, and
Alon Tal, whose Green Movement merged with Livni’s party, led
activists on a bike ride throughout Tel Aviv to drum up support, encouraging
citizens enjoying their day off in the beautiful weather to leave their
barbecues long enough to go vote.
“The Green Movement understands the
importance of high turnout, and we want the public in Tel Aviv to know that
Greens vote for Tzipi,” said party member Amir Rockman, 32, who participated in
the biking effort.
The bike tour gave the party an advantage, Rockman
said, because few other parties had decided to canvas in Tel Aviv’s parks, and
the bikers had free rein to tackle undecided voters from the Yarkon Park to the
beach to the ports.
“We have very high support for the environmental
agenda,” he said. “Many people asked us whom to vote for.”
biggest troubles they encountered? For one, people hadn’t heard about the union
between the environmentalists and Livni. For another, previous Livni voters
still felt burned by her previous political failures.
“A lot of people
were concerned about giving their voice to Livni again,” Rockman
However, Livni was buoyed by reports of high turnout throughout the
day, which significantly exceeded previous years.
“We managed to wake
Israel up!” she said on a tour of polling stations in Rishon Lezion before
taking a swipe at “trendy,” inexperienced party leaders – echoing criticism she
had repeatedly leveled against Center-Left competitors Shelly Yacimovich of
Labor, and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid. “The revolution is possible!”