(photo credit: AP)
The head of Kadima's governing council, former minister Haim Ramon, came out in favor of advancing the next Kadima leadership race to July 2011, in a letter he sent to the Kadima faction that was obtained exclusively by The Jerusalem Post Wednesday.
Kadima's constitution currently states that the primary should be held two to three months before the next general election, which is now set for November 2013, but could be advanced. The last time an election was held on time was in 1981.
In last Thursday's Kadima house committee meeting, Ramon called for the primary to be held a year before the next general election. Ramon, who acts as the political arm of Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, wrote in the letter that the average term since 1981 has lasted three years and five months.
When asked whether he was calling for advancing the primary from September 2013 to July 2011, Ramon said "the letter speaks for itself" and refused to elaborate.
Livni's chief rival, MK Shaul Mofaz, has gradually backtracked since his demand for a primary to be held within three months, which he issued last month. His associates said he would now agree to hold the race any time in 2010.
Former Kadima leadership challenger Avi Dichter, who just last week spoke about the race needing to be at the end of 2010, said Wednesday that he would accept holding it a year before the general election.
But Dichter said that Ramon's math was incorrect, because he failed to take into account the election for prime minister in 2001, when a new Knesset was not elected. He said the real average for a term is three years and one month, which would mean a March 2011 primary.
Dichter and Mofaz have been coordinating strategy, and it is likely that if Dichter and Ramon agree on a spring 2011 primary that Mofaz and Livni would agree.
Livni's associates said she had not come out in favor of a specific date for the primary yet. They said that whatever date she ultimately endorses will pass easily in the Kadima faction and council.
A group of Kadima's top field activists, most of whom are loyal to Livni, decided in a meeting on Tuesday night that the primary should be advanced to a year before the election's current date, which would mean a November 2012 race.
"We didn't want to enter the trap of governments not finishing their term," said the group's secretary Reuven Most, who chairs Kadima's Hadera region. "We can't say the government will last two or four years. How am I supposed to know?"
At the other extreme, MK Eli Aflalo, who is Livni's fiercest opponent in the faction, sent Ramon a letter telling him that by his math, the average term has lasted only two years and two months, so the leadership race should be held in April 2010.
It was still unclear Wednesday when the Kadima faction and council would discuss the matter and make a decision.