Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Livni Starts Off With More Similarities To George Than To Golda

George Bush started off his presidency at a decided disadvantage, not merely because it took so long for the results of the vote to be decided--but because of the claims of impropriety and the resentments that resulted.

That seems to be Tzipi Livni's starting point as well:
The current foreign minister earned the right last week after she beat Shaul Mofaz in a primary by a grand total of 431 votes. Even that narrow 1% margin overstates her controversial victory. On election day, Livni’s lawyers, alarmed by what looked like a low turnout, successfully petitioned the party courts to keep the polls open longer than scheduled — nobody knows what the results might have looked like if that hadn’t happened.

As if that weren’t bad enough, 15 minutes before the precincts closed, media outlets broadcast exit polls forecasting a double-digit win for Livni, which may have discouraged supporters of her opponent from making their voice heard. Perhaps worst of all, 430 votes from the Bedouin village of Rahat, where Mofaz is said to have had overwhelming support, were disqualified.
In addition, there is a parallel to Bush's second election campaign as well--the loss of a constituency. In 2000, George Bush captured roughly about 50% of the Muslim vote, yet in 2004 Gore received between 70-80% of the Muslim vote. Just as Muslims vote Republican seem to be a one-time occasion, the same may be true in Israel of Sephardim voting for Kadima:
Given his standing as a prominent Sephardi Jew, Mofaz’s bitterness at losing a race to a full-fledged member of the Ashkenazi elite should resonate with a community that has long felt discriminated against. Sephardi voters have called the Likud party their home for three decades and as a result of the Mofaz defeat, the decision of many in 2006 to vote for Kadima may prove a one-time aberration.
Like Bush, Livni is also coming in to lead a government with the reputation of being inexperienced. Georg Bush didn't have that long to wait before he was test by 9/11. Should Livni be able to cobble together a coalition and take control as Prime Minister, her tests will come much sooner.

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