Analysis: Problems of the rich and poor

If Labor surprises in the polls that count on March 28, Peretz will truly have a reason to beam with joy.

peretz to labor mtg 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
peretz to labor mtg 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Labor chairman Amir Peretz beamed with joy on the stage at Beit Berl in Kfar Saba on Wednesday, surrounded by the candidates elected to his party's Knesset slate. The stage looked very crowded and so is the Labor list. The latest polls show that even Nadia Hilou, a charming Arab Christian from Jaffa who is 15th on the list, cannot take for granted that she will be in the next Knesset. Peretz can brag about having quality candidates like Isaac Herzog, Ophir Paz-Pines, Avishay Braverman and Yuli Tamir in Labor's top five. But he will have to console the quality candidates who did not make the top 30, like Alon Pinkas, Arye Amit, Eli Ben-Menahem and Australian-born Guy Spigelman, who got 10,887 votes but will have to settle for the 45th slot. The situation is the same in the Likud, where candidates like David Levy, Zalman Shoval, Shmuel Slavin and Eli Moyal, who were elected to slots in the 30s and 40s, could make up a respectable cabinet. And even former ministers Uzi Landau and Yuli Edelstein, who are 14th and 15th on the list, do not know whether they will be looking for new jobs after the March 28 election. "There just isn't enough room on the list for everyone I want to vote for," Peretz admitted after an extended stay at a voting booth in Sderot. The shortage of places for quality candidates in Labor and Likud is even more blatant when contrasted with what is happening in Kadima. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert can only wish that he had the same surplus in the Treasury that he has in his party. Before his stroke, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon built a stable of 33 candidates for the next Knesset, including himself. Polls have predicated that Olmert will need another 10 candidates just to fill the rest of the realistic slots. Olmert is in no hurry to deal with such problems of the rich. Sharon had intended to finish drafting the Kadima list last week, the same day the Likud elected its slate. Olmert's advisers say he is too busy running the country, and he will not get around to meeting prospective Kadima Knesset candidates until the end of next week at the earliest. He need not look any further than the scrap heap at Beit Berl and the muddy pile of election propaganda left behind after the Likud central committee elected the party's MKs at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. Experienced diplomats like Pinkas and Shoval proved to be political novices when they decided to run in Labor and Likud instead of begging Sharon for a place on his list. Instead of relaxing on their way to the April 17 swearing-in ceremony, all they can do now is count the enormous amount of money they both wasted on unsuccessful races. The Kadima faction appointed Olmert as its temporary chairman on Monday, but he looked much more permanent in the meeting than Peretz or Netanyahu. Peretz gained a powerful enemy in Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on Wednesday, and Netanyahu's political foes meet nightly at cafes in Petah Tikva to plan their coup attempts. But things change very quickly in Israeli politics and if the law of gravity applied to the Knesset, Kadima would have to eventually come down. If that happens, more space will open up on the Likud and Labor lists and Netanyahu and Peretz could prove their staying power. If Labor surprises in the polls that count on March 28, Peretz will truly have a reason to beam with joy.