Wednesday, January 04, 2006

There are eight days left until the Likud primaries. I'll try to briefly explain what's going on.

The head of the party, who is by definition number 1 on the Knesset list is chosen by all paid members of the party, of which there are about 130,000. This vote took place a couple of weeks ago and Bibi won with 44% of the vote. Had he received less tha 40%, he'd have faced a runoff with Sylvain Shalom, who came in second. Moshe Feiglin took 12.4% of the vote. For what it's worth, in My Little Town, the vote was Feiglin-169, Bibi-102, Shalom-4.

The rest of the party list is chosen by the Central Committee members, of which there about 3000. Each CC member chooses 15 names off a list of somewhere over 100 candidates. The candidates are ranked from 2 to 18 in order of the number of votes each received. The slots from 19 down to where-it-don't-matter are reserved for the highest vote getter in a variety of sectors. For example, the highest "Tel Aviv" vote getter gets the 19 slot, the highest "Moshavim" candidate gets the 23 slot, and so forth. Current and former MKs are not eligible for the sector seats so that only 18 of these have a shot at getting in. There are 25 current Likud MKs (plus Natan Sharansky who is not currently an MK but was one) who have not defected to Kadima so 8 of them are cooked. Who will they be?

There are several of them who snuck in on the sector seats last time and are obvious losers with little real support. These are Ben-Lulu, Gavrieli, Gorlovsky and Hazan. (Note that this list is unrelated to pro/con disengagement: Hazan and Gorlovsky were anti-disengagement, Ben-Lulu waivered and Gavrieli supported it but is too big an idiot to even squeeze into Kadima.) David Levy is totally washed out and a likely loser. Leah Ness, Gila Gamliel and Haim Katz are very iffy. Ness snuck in last time on one of the women's slots but had little impact; Gamliel actually did well last time and is high profile but, despite generally opposing disengagement, she rather inelegantly supported Sharon on some critical votes in exchange for a short-lived stint as a deputy minister; Haim Katz controls a block of Israel Aircraft union people which he is attempting to parlay into a slot but is otherwise uninteresting.

If the above 8 names are indeed the losers, the world will not be a worse place when we wake up next Friday. On the other hand, the four smartest returning candidates -- Sharansky, Yuli Edelstein, Miki Eitan and Yuval Shteinitz -- do face some risk. The first two because many CC members will vote for one ex-Prisoner of Zion but not two, and the latter two because they supported disengagement. This is a pity because Eitan and Shteinitz were actually the two most effective MKs in minimizing the damage of the disengagement. Shteinitz single-handedly defeated Sharon's insane idea of bringing thousands of heavily armed Egyptian troops into Sinai and Eitan has led the battles for the civil and economic rights of those expelled from Azza. They aslo are excellent parliamentarians who will bring more credit to the party than some of the bozos on the list.

One name I didn't mention among candidates for the top 18 seats is Moshe Feiglin and herein lies a tale. There are 120 CC members affiliated with Feiglin and about 400 who support him. Now the rules of the game are simple. Let's be conservative and say that Feiglin can deliver 100 votes to any candidate he decides he likes. Assuming that each of the 100 will use one of their 15 names for Feiglin and one for his partner, Michael Fuah (who is running for the Moshavim slot at 23), this leaves room for 13 different candidates to whom Feiglin can promise 100 votes each in exchange for them promising Feiglin and Fuah the support of their people. (Admittedly, there are some constraints here: most candidates don't have such big armies to promise and the number of credible candidates is small in any case.) This ought to have been enough to drive Feiglin and Fuah right up to the top of the list. But that's not how it has played out. In fact, Feiglin dropped out of the race for lack of any realistic chance of getting one of the top 18 slots and Fuah is trailing for the Moshavim slot against a non-entity named Danny Danon.

How did this happen? To make a long story short, Feiglin refused to drop out of the race for head of the party, when doing so would have guaranteed Bibi's victory over Sylvain Shalom. (Of course, in hindsight it didn't matter but this was not clear at the time.) His reasoning was that
1. He cared more about establishing himself as a potential head of the party than getting into the Knesset.
2. If he'd have forced a runoff between Bibi and Sylvain, he'd have been able to extract big promises from Bibi in exchange for his support in the runoff.

But, as everybody with a brain asked, what if as a result of Feiglin's candidacy, Sylvain had actually won? (Not to belabor the point, Sylvain is a complete gornisht whose only "asset" is a wife who's rich enough to be vulgar and shameless and who would have destroyed the Likud and the country.) To this Feiglin and Fuah made quite clear that they really didn't give a damn. There is no hierarchy of virtue: all those who are not one-of-us are the selbe dreck. This is the kind of lunacy that I hear from my friends and neighbors every day, except that none of them is actually presuming to run the country. Suffice it to say, it did not go over well in the Likud, which has always been of a more -- let me use a generous word -- "pragmatic" mindset. Now nobody of any consequence is prepared to cut a deal with Feiglin and Fuah. As Yogi might say, they have truly snatched defeat from the clutches of victory.


Anonymous Desperate Balabusta said...

and NOW what happens....?????

4:12 AM  
Anonymous Scott said...

You are missing the point of Feiglin's candidacy for Likud leadership. Had he withdrawn, he would have been quite legitimately labeled a stalking horse. In other words, that he never had an intent to run but rather was planning to quit all along and endorse Netanyahu (or whoever, but he would have been the likely choice).

Landau did exactly this, thus proving that his vaunted incorruptibility and clean image were just a sham.

Ultimately, there isn't much difference between Netanyahu and Shalom, regardless of how much people believe that to be the case. Netanyahu was an excellent Finance Minister but a horrible Prime Minister, and he demonstrated by his complete lack of leadership in the expulsion of Jews from Gaza that he has not learned his lesson.

Feiglin, on the other hand, claimed, and I believe him, after extensive study, that he offered a radically different type of leadership of the country. Had he caved, that image of a true alternative would have shattered, and he would not be able to run next time without people wondering how long before he caved, again, to a more "electable" candidate (like Netanyahu, for example).

I see no contradiction between his running for leader and withdrawing from running for a place on the Knesset list. He wouldn't be in a leadership position, and he would be shut out of any position of authority (ie as a minister) should Netanyahu win.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Zalman said...

if Feiglin had no chance, why did Bibi introduce his anti-Feiglin bill?

12:38 PM  
Blogger treppenwitz said...

The expression, "You'll never work in this town again" comes to mind. :-)

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trepp nailed it. But Manhigut Yehudit has been planning for the personal attack on Feiglin - this is part of the reason why he is not pursuing a seat.

They are playing the long game of building influence within the Likud. I see Ben-Chorin's statements about them rubbing Likudniks the wrong way in the context of many Likud jobnik's fear of losing power.

I don't think they've damaged their long-term prospects. The most important part is to capitalize on their vastly improved status since the last primary (from 4% to 12%) to convince Manhigut Yehudit's people to hold their noses and vote Likud.

I am thankful that the rest of the right is in disarray. Maybe this will make it easier to convince those who joined the Likud and Feiglined the primary to actually vote for the party.

2:41 PM  
Blogger bar_kochba132 said...

Manhigut Yehudit people themselves
admit that most of the Likud Knesset candidates (not inluding their own, of course) are a bunch of Bozos. Let's say that Foeh does get the slot, and let's say that I want him in the Knesset. I have to vote MAHAL (Likud), but my vote doesn't necessarily go to him, it goes to one of the Bozos in the marginal seat that my extra vote goes to. Last time people who voted Likud because Feiglin was as spot no 42 (approx) (hey, wait- I thought he doesn't want to be in the Knesset, why did he run the last time?) put Olmert (?!) into the Knesset.

Manhigut Yehudit in the Likud doesn't stand a chance. If they ever get really powerful so that they actually present a significant challenge to the powers-that-be in the Likud, and even more so, the Hellenisitc oligarchy that really runs the country one of two things will happen (1) attempts to bribe the Manhigut Yehudit people will be made to get them to sell out there followers in return for cash or jobs (just like the Likud MK's who betrayed the party members and voters by supporting the destruction of Gush Katif
(2) The full force of the coercive power of the state will come down on them with phony prosecutions on trumped-up charges, slander in the media, etc.

There is no future for Manhigut Yehudit in the Likud. The only solution for Israel (if it is not too late) is to work with the grass-roots citizenry to get them to realize how the country is being led to ruin and to get them to force the political power (regardless of who it is) to do what has to be done.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous settler said...

The Feiglin cult always promised us they'd "crown" a Prime Minister. Well, they've done it!! You see, without the MY central committee members votes for Olmert, Olmert would not have made the list and would not be an MK. And without being an MK in the PM's faction he would be ineligible to become interim PM Thereby rendering his term as acting PM as moot - as the knives would have come out already and someone would have pushed the AG to invoke article 30.

12:42 PM  

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