Shaul Mofaz
Photo: Itzik Edri
Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO

Can Mofaz defeat Bibi?

Op-ed: New Kadima leader has several vulnerabilities, but also some strategic advantages

Shaul Mofaz has been waiting for this moment for more than three years, and fully expected to take the reins at Kadima. Through hard work and persistence, and with the help of several determined advisors, he secured the victory. Now, he plans to prove that he can do more. Therefore, as of this morning, he will start to prepare for the truly grand race – the general elections.


Mofaz has quite a few vulnerabilities: His ability o maintain the support of Kadima voters who arrived from the Labor party, for example, is shrouded in doubt.


Whether we like it or not, quite a few people vote for the candidate who is closest to them ideologically, and ethnically. Mofaz may scare off voters who thought Livni was the right candidate back to Labor, or to Yair Lapid's new party.


It is still very early to determine how Kadima will be shaped under Mofaz, yet weekend polls will certainly constitute an initial indication for the future, even if not a precise one: Favorable polls may grant Mofaz a backwind. On the other hand, polls that show further collapse among Kadima's voters could be lethal for Mofaz, and constitute excellent news for Benjamin Netanyahu.


Social agenda

For the time being, Mofaz does not intend to join Netanyahu's government. Mofaz will not start his term as Kadima chairman by seeking coalition jobs. He doesn't need a bunch of angry journalists writing that the only thing he wanted was a government-issued car. This can be done after the elections, and Mofaz does not shy away from admitting that he is an enthused fan of unity governments.


Mofaz will seek to change Kadima's face. Livni mostly took pleasure in dealing with diplomatic issues, while Mofaz is more connected to social issues. They are important to him, and therefore he will be engaged in promoting them.


This affinity to social issues also presents a strategic advantage: It may draw soft-Right voters who feel they can no longer vote for Netanyahu, for whatever reason.


Mofaz is also the first non-Ashkenazi premiership candidate who can be characterized as "significant." The combination of his vast military experience as a former IDF chief of staff who surrounds himself with top security officials like Dan Halutz and Avi Dicther yet at the same time is sensitive to public distress, may end up working well within Israel's complex reality.



פרסום ראשון: 03.28.12, 10:57
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