Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Kadima wins -- Sharon was on the right path

I don't follow Israeli politics closely, but this seems important. One would think that the Hamas win in Gaza would trigger a backlash in Israel but Israeli voters are not that easily bent out of shape. CFR has a summary and links to a variety of analyses.

Confirming expectations, Israel's new centrist party was the big winner in the March 28 parliamentary elections, capturing twenty-eight seats (Haaretz). The government will likely be run by a coalition formed by the centrist Kadima, the leftist Labor party—which won twenty seats—and a handful of smaller parties (CSMonitor). The once prominent Likud party had its worst showing in years, taking eleven seats. This leaves Likud leader and former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the ropes, with members of his own party calling for his resignation (FT).

Such an outcome would have been unimaginable a few short months ago. Then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent a shock through the political system by founding Kadima, drawing mass defections, and ending a generation of politics that pitted right versus left. But gone now is Sharon himself. The blow he dealt to the political system was quickly followed by an even more devastating one: a stroke that left Israel's most forceful leader in a coma (WashPost), his career at an end. These events alone would have completely changed Israeli politics. Yet a third bolt from the blue—the victory of the terrorist group Hamas in Palestinian elections—looms even more ominously over the process.

More at the link...

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I have been following an Israeli blog, An Unsealed Room, for a few weeks. Allison Kaplan Sommer is the writer. I gather from her past comments that the blogger's husband is a well-placed government official. She speaks with some knowledge and authority. This was posted "this morning," which occurs several hours ahead of "this morning' in North America.

It's 7 AM Israel time. I collapsed of blogging exhaustion at about 12:30 PM -- I gave up waiting for Olmert to speak.

I woke up to the same news as last night -- the Likud has been smashed to pieces, Kadima will form the government, but they did slightly worse than predicted, dropping from polls showing 32-30 seats, when in reality, they only got 28 and have got to be disappointed. This will make it harder for them to make any really bold moves. And Labor will have them over a barrel in demanding key ministerial positions.

A key strategic error in the campaign -- they acted like confident front-runners, so even those who really wanted them at the helm felt free to vote their social issues and support smaller parties.

I like that Olmert's first act was to reach out to the Palestinians. You've got to try.

Since that post she has added more for those who are interested. I like how she explains stuff.

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