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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

September 18, 2008- Livni Wins Primary

Livni won the Kadima primaries, yesterday but just by a very slim margin. Yesterday I was on the road and could not post the results, however, if I would have posted, the results may have been wrong. Last night the Israeli media posted the results of the primary based on an exit survey. The survey's results were similar to the surveys taken before the election, and showed Livni in the lead by 10 points. As the night wore on it was clear that the survey's was very wrong-- for a while during the night Mofaz was actually ahead. In the end, Mofaz lost by just over 400 votes. Mofaz's advisors suggested he contest the election. In the end, Mofaz conceded to Livni, and avoided what would have been a debilitating fight within the party. He did say he was stepping away from politics for a while–– what that means is not yet clear.

In the days up to the election Mofaz seemed very confident he would win and receive over 40% of the vote- he was right he receved 42% of the vote, Livni however, received 43.1%. Mofaz's votes were the organized types, when a union came out for him all their voters voted for him. The problem for Livni is that if he leaves the party a substantial voting bloc could leave as well.

Reports indicate that Olmert will resign on October 2nd. The President then has to officially decide who to give the job of forming a government to. Livni is trying hard not to open negotiations on a wide front for forming a coalition. She is telling coalition member there is already an agreement in place. Shas is going to be her hardest obstacle to overcome. Shas continues to demand a return to the old allowances for children. Livni has hinted that she could form a government without them and they have sounded slightly more willing to find a way to climb down from their unacceptable demands.

Some, especially in the Likud, are complaining that 400 voters should not determine who should be Israel's Prime Minster. Instead, they suggest, it should be up to the electorate at large. In fact it has happened before in a similar way many times. In 1953, Ben Gurion resigned and Mapai picked Moshe Sharett to replace him. In 1963, when Ben Gurion resigned again, for the final time, the central committee of Mapai was made up of some 400 or so people. In 1969, when Eshkol died, this same small group picked Golda. When she resigned in 1974, the central committee of 298 of the Labor party members picked Rabin to replace her. In 1983, when Begin resigned, 434 members of the Herut central committee picked Yitzahak Shamir and in 1995 when Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated, the cabinet picked Shimon Peres to succeed him.