MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni confirmed the obvious Wednesday morning when she
advanced her party’s leadership race.
The Kadima constitution, drafted to
fit a dominating leader like former prime minister Ariel Sharon, sets the
party’s primary for immediately before a general election, despite the inability
to know when an early election would actually take place.
Mofaz: Livni's reign atop Kadima has
Livni refuses to stand behind Mofaz if she
Yair Lapid rejects calls to join
bylaws, which could match those of ruling parties in Israel’s neighboring
countries, make it nearly impossible to overthrow the party leader. A leadership
race in Kadima requires the support of the party leader.
So it was up to
Livni to decide what timing worked best to hold the race, as she likes to say,
“for the good of the country, the party, and then myself, in that
This is not the place to judge what is best for the country, and
the race would have been challenging for her whenever it was held. But how she
handled the timing for her party’s sake can definitely be
Livni certainly did not have to hold the primary when her
party rivals wanted it. They already called for advancing the race nearly three
There was nothing wrong with her ignoring calls to advance the
race after MK Shelly Yacimovich was elected Labor leader. After all, holding the
race so close to the summer socioeconomic protests, which revealed Kadima’s
weakness on those issues, would not have been good for her, or for the
Livni also was under no obligation to advance Kadima’s race
immediately after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu moved up the race in Likud.
Her passing a resolution in her faction that barred even discussing advancing
the primary until May was, perhaps, a bit extreme, but that was her
However, Livni absolutely had to make sure that Kadima’s
primary would be held before journalist Yair Lapid entered politics and started
taking away her party’s votes and activists, as well as its status as the
darling of the left-ofcenter elites. In just one week, 4,000 people volunteered
to help Lapid’s new party, which has not even been formed.
silly asking for volunteers for her campaign on her Facebook page, using an
e-mail address strangely similar to the one Lapid has right under his own
Facebook picture. The similar e-mail address is probably a coincidence, but the
fact is every move made in Kadima from the moment Lapid entered politics will
now be made in his shadow.
Lapid has changed the dynamics of the race
from a contest for the undisputed leader of the center-left bloc to a
competition over who would be more likely to save Kadima.
have predicted that the party that could have won close to 50 seats under Sharon
could end up in the single digits. If Lapid drafts a strong platform and a group
of stars for his party list, he could deal a death blow to Kadima.
was also eulogized until Ehud Barak split the party a year ago Tuesday. But as a
relatively new phenomenon that lacks Labor’s roots, Kadima still has to prove
its staying power.
The old adage “better late than never” is almost
always true. But when it came to setting the date for the Kadima race, it may
turn out to have been “better never than late.”