Kadima leadership election, 2008
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An election for the leadership of Kadima was held on 17 September 2008 as a concession to Kadima's coalition partner, Labour, which had threatened to bring down the government if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert didn't stand aside following police investigations into alleged corruption during his terms as minister and as mayor of Jerusalem.
As Kadima remained the largest party in the Knesset and the coalition, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the designated new leader after balloting, had the chance to form a government without a need for elections.
- Tzipi Livni, party leader
- Avi Dichter, former Internal Security Minister
- Shaul Mofaz, former Transport Minister
- Meir Sheetrit, former Minister of the Interior
The two front-runners throughout the campaign consistently remained Mofaz and Livni, with Livni always holding a consistent lead in the polls. (Although, it should be noted, Israeli primary polls are frequently unreliable, due to poor sampling and turnout predictions. Most of the polls in the 2012 Kadima primary showed Livni ahead of Mofaz, yet Mofaz ended up winning by 24 points; likewise, Amir Peretz beat former Prime Minister Shimon Peres in the 2005 Labor leadership primary even though most polls predicted a solid Peres victory.) While both frontrunners supported a two-state solution, Mofaz attacked Livni for wanting to divide Jerusalem in a final peace deal with the Palestinians, and claimed that his military experience would make him a more qualified Prime Minister. Livni and her supporters claimed that a vote for Mofaz is the same as a vote for the Likud due to Mofaz's hawkish and more right-wing positions. They emphasized Livni's "clean" (free from corruption allegations) image and showed that Kadima led by Livni would win more seats in Parliament than Kadima led by Mofaz. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert remained neutral in the primary, but was alleged to privately favor Mofaz.
Exit polls released after the poll indicated a double-digit victory for Livni. The actual vote count turned out much closer, amid very low turnout, with Shaul Mofaz coming within a few hundred votes of winning an unexpected victory over Livni. Supporters of Mofaz called for a recount but Mofaz rejected any legal challenge of the declared result and called Livni to congratulate her on her victory, as did Sheetrit and Dichter.
|Candidate||Raw vote count||Percentage|
|Source: BBC News|
After Mofaz's loss, he announced that he would be taking a break from politics and leaving the government and Knesset. However, he would remain a member of Kadima. Soon after, however, he announced his return and won the 2nd place in Kadima's Knesset list for the 2009 elections. In a rematch in 2012, he won the leadership, and in the 2013 election led the party to a stunning collapse, winning 2 seats.
After her election, Livni failed to form a governing coalition, having failed to reach an agreement with Shas. Subsequently general elections took place on February 10, 2009.
- Khalil, Ashraf; Sobelman, Batsheva (2008-09-18). "A new leader for Kadima". Los Angeles Times.
- Tim Butcher (2008-09-17). "Israel: Tzipi Livni wins Kadima vote to become new PM". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
- "Livni to lead Israel ruling party". BBC News. 2008-09-18. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
- Staff writer (2008-09-18). "Mofaz activists: We'll demand a recount". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
- Meranda, Amnon (2008-09-18). "Mofaz Says will Take Break from Politics". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
- Kadima Leadership Elections: background, results, and the prospects for peace Institute for Middle East Understanding