Livni, Mofaz augur Kadima’s doom if other elected

Both campaigns using thousands of volunteers, staffers on election day in close race to help get out the vote.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
March 27, 2012 06:19
2 minute read.
Mofaz, Netanyahu and Livni.

Mofaz Netanyahu Livni 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Kadima leadership candidates Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz ended their campaigns by predicting victory and attacking each other ahead of Tuesday’s fateful election that is expected to be very close.

Livni defeated Mofaz in the last Kadima primary in September 2008 by only 431 votes, amid accusations that the results were twisted by incorrect exit polls, the extension of voting hours and a polling station that was burned to the ground.

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This time, Kadima’s 95,000 members will be eligible to vote in 197 polling stations in 104 sites across the country. Polls open at 10 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. Official results are not expected until at least 1 a.m. but spokesmen for the candidates said they would know who won much earlier based on voter turnout in Livni’s and Mofaz’s respective strongholds.

Livni is said to have an advantage in Tel Aviv and the Center and among Russian immigrants, while Mofaz is thought to be stronger in the North and South and among Arabs and Druse. Turnout in general is expected to be very low due to forecasts for rain, a train strike and the fact that Kadima membership is very difficult to cancel – to the point that many dead people remain on the party’s rolls.

Both campaigns will use thousands of volunteers and paid staffers on election day to help get out the vote. At a meeting with his top activists at his campaign headquarters in Yehud, Mofaz predicted that the race could be decided by a single vote.

“We have reached the moment of truth,” he said. “We can’t afford to be complacent.”

Mofaz, who made a point of not attacking Livni throughout the campaign, did not hold back in interviews on Thursday.

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He lashed out at her for refusing to commit to staying in Kadima if she lost the race and denied her charges that he would make the party play second fiddle to a government led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“I will accept the verdict of the voters, but she is unwilling,” Mofaz said. “The public already decided that she is not an alternative to Netanyahu. My views are as far away from Netanyahu’s as the distance from East to West. Kadima’s lack of an agenda over the past three years brought the party to its current state.”

Livni warned that Mofaz would make Kadima into a second Likud. She said that if she did not win, the party would cease to be a ruling party with a legitimate chance of competing for the premiership in the next general election.

“They say this is the battle of my life, but it’s not about me,” Livni said in a phone message sent to her supporters. “It’s a joint battle of all of us. Don’t let others decide for you. If you don’t vote, we won’t have a leader who can beat Netanyahu.”

Livni accused Mofaz of persuading haredi parties not to join the government when she tried to form a coalition in 2008. Kadima MK Shlomo Molla, who supports Livni, complained to Kadima’s election committee on Monday that Mofaz was illegally using Knesset phones for his campaign.

MKs in other parties downplayed the significance of the Kadima race, denouncing the party as irrelevant no matter who leads it. The Labor Party began a new campaign on Monday urging Kadima members to defect.

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