Nahum Barnea

The politicians are lying

Nahum Barnea says we should not believe politicians who say they do not fear elections

Sometimes, the clothes are the message. In her previous visit to the Presidential Residence, Tzipi Livni chose to wear a dress, which is not customary for her. It was a long black dress. It was meant to convey a message to the ultra-Orthodox parties, letting them know she can be the kind of woman they like – modest, soft, and considerate.


On Sunday, no longer fearing the Orthodox, Livni wore pants. She got out of her black Mercedes with vigor, and rushed into the house at the head of a panting entourage to inform President Peres that she has not been able to form a government. By rushing in, she aimed to atone for 35 days of failed, ineffectual negotiations. She tried to regain the fading momentum by being fleet-footed.


At the same time, she attempted to regain the five hours she lost Sunday when she complied with Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik’s request and agreed to postpone her announcement to the president at the last moment. These five hours were insignificant in and of themselves. However, they reflected the mistakes made by Livni this past month. Yet another ultimatum was broken; another hope ended up with disappointment; another nervous deviation from the itinerary.


Consistency, self-confidence, determination, and clarift are the keys to success in any elections campaign. Livni is learning this the hard way.


To some extent, she succeeded. In a short speech she read at the Presidential Residence, and in interviews she granted to the three major television channels, she reinforced the argument that she has no government because she did not cave in to extortion. When she said “there are prices that others are willing to pay but I am unwilling to pay at the expense of the State and its citizens, only to be a prime minister in a government of paralysis,” she was referring to Mofaz a little, and mostly to Netanyahu.


Only Kadima interested in quick elections

Livni is convinced that Netanyahu made exaggerated pledges to the ultra-orthodox parties – Netanyahu vehemently denies this. She also believes that Bibi acquired accessibility into Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s family with money. “If someone is willing to sell out what he believes in for a seat, he is unworthy of sitting on it,” she said.


This sounds effective as a firing shot, yet an elections campaign is a long process filled with changes. To borrow an expression from the sports section, Livni enters this campaign with good opening positions but without depth. She tells her voters that she cannot be blackmailed – but they will ask, what do you have? How will you handle the difficult crises that are lying in wait?


Livni’s rivals will make sure that the campaign is as long as possible. Don’t believe those who say that they do not fear elections, even tomorrow. Out of the 120 Knesset members, a cautious estimate shows that more than 90 do not want elections.


Netanyahu and Barak are interested in first wearing out Livni in the polls, and only then going to elections. For Netanyahu, elections in February are a risk; for Barak, they are a catastrophe. Eli Yishai wants elections before July, so that they are held before former Shas leader Aryeh Deri is allowed to return to politics following his conviction. However, Yishai does not have a burning itch to hold the elections immediately.


Those are the leaders. As to the lowlier Knesset members, they are thinking about the primary elections in their own parties at this time. They are thinking about the money they will need to raise and the laws they will need to violate, and about the risk that they will drop to an unrealistic spot on their party list. They are thinking about the need to again buy the support of field activists, of betraying their colleagues, and of being betrayed. Even if they survive in the internal party elections, their party may shrink in the general elections. For them, elections are a blatant injustice.


Among all the parties, only Kadima has an interest in seeing elections within 90 days. The others will maneuver between the true desires of Knesset members and their fear of being punished by the voters. What they will do in practice depends on the level of shame, each own having their own level of shame.


פרסום ראשון: 10.27.08, 18:49
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