This is starting to sound like a GOP primary in South Carolina. I can see why Mofaz’s camp might want to employ some trickery after what happened during the last Kadima leadership vote, and Livni’s protestations ring a bit hollow, particularly given her efforts to expel Likud supporters from Kadima only after she decided they were likely to vote for Mofaz. Personally, I am rooting for a Livni victory because she presents Israeli voters with a greater contrast to Netanyahu and a wider variety of choices is a good thing for democracy. I also think Livni is a symbolically important figure in Israeli politics given that she is a woman in a strongly male-dominated political arena, and more crucially she is one of only a handful of Israeli politicians not tainted by corruption or suspicion of corruption. I fear though that she is going to be the loser today, and there is no doubt in my mind that irrespective of who wins, the loser is going to leave Kadima and the party itself will not last more than one more election cycle. Livni and Mofaz are too different and detest each other too much to coexist, all the more so in light of the rhetoric used by both sides in this campaign. And unlike the Netanyahu-Shalom rivalry within Likud, which is in some ways much nastier, there is not going to be enough at stake given Kadima’s sagging fortunes for both Livni and Mofaz to stick it out. Silvan Shalom can hold out hope that he can eventually dislodge Bibi and become PM and thus brave the various insults levied at him by Bibi, but Kadima is past its peak and is rapidly approaching its nadir. Here’s to hoping that if Livni does indeed lose, this is not the last that we’ve seen of her.

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