“Tzipi Livni joins doctors on protest march” was the latest headline in
the ongoing medical crisis story, as the opposition chairman joined Medical Association President Dr. Leonid Edelman who has been heading to Jerusalem on the final leg of his march.
Earlier in the week, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented
his plan to
alleviate the housing crisis, Livni's first response was to tell demonstrators to continue their protest as Netanyahu "is trying to carry out a deception," adding that the PM would eventually fold.
As an opposition leader one might guess that Livni's knee
jerk reaction in any situation is to criticize the government – that is one of the roles of a parliamentary opposition, isn't it? However, it seems Livni has forgotten that a parliamentary opposition has another, more important role, a duty even – to offer an alternative.
Which begs the question – what has Livni ever done to present a viable alternative to the current government?
It would have been interesting had she, following Netanyahu's press conference, convened her own to present the opposition's plan for viable housing. An article in July 17th's Calcalist notes that Livni is now meeting with various factors to put together a new financial platform for the Kadima party that would take the recent slew of protests into consideration.
So perhaps the reason Livni didn't present an alternative plan is because she doesn't have one.
Livni could have announced that she believed this, a time of major unrest both within and beyond our borders, calls for unity from our leaders. Making the first move towards a unity government would have given her the upper hand in the popularity stakes while showing that she was a responsible opposition leader.
But that would go against Livni's adamant opposition to a unity government. In April 2009 she claimed that unity would "save the government, not the State." Yet in 2008 she was singing a different tune, claiming that all parties would be welcome – from Meretz and through to Yisrael Beiteinu. Of course she was running for the position of Kadima chairwoman, ahead of her premiership race, at the time.
And while joining the doctors' in their protest march is a wonderful way of showing she identifies with their cause, speaking out in the Knesset plenum about the doctors' and public health system's plight while suggesting possible bills that could change the situation might have achieved more, even if PR-wise the former has the makings of a great photo op.
For Livni it would seem that political life is just one big election, and thus she is always on the campaign trail where heckling political opponents and pointing out their deficiencies at every turn is the norm. Yet the problem is that when elections are over, campaign slogans are just not enough - this holds true for both the prime minister and the opposition.
Livni’s claims on the government’s and the prime minister’s failings may be true, but her job is not to ask the nation to promote her own personal agenda of having the prime minister “fold eventually” to yet unformed demands. She must offer a better plan, taking the financial repercussions into consideration, or if need be, bring down the government by convincing the authority responsible for doing so - the Knesset through a vote of no-confidence - that elections are the only viable choice for the country.