Senior Kadima members are no longer asking themselves if the party will split, but when the party will split.
Kadima hasn’t been an important party for a while now. Not only is it not an alternative to the current government, but leading the opposition in the next Knesset also seems today to be more of a wish than a well-founded political assessment. Despite all this, the Kadima primary election on Tuesday night is likely to be one of the more decisive political events so far, with implications for years to come.
No one will be surprised if Kadima splinters apart in the coming weeks or months. A split is virtually inevitable. Beyond the personal aspect in this whole story – and many believe that the electoral distance between Livni and Mofaz won’t allow for them to coexist side by side – it seems that Kadima simply can’t manage to find its identity in the current political space.
Socially and economically, Kadima had nothing to offer in the past, and it certainly doesn’t now, not after Shelly Yachimovich was elected to lead the Labor party.
Kadima’s civic and anti-haredi policies are also lagging behind Yair Lapid's political movement and Meretz's Zahava Galon. Kadima's foreign policy – the party’s flagship under Tzipi Livni – is as interesting as, well, how much it costs to get into the Hermon ski resort in the August heat. What’s more, the Kadima government, under Ehud Olmert, was given the chance to bring about a peace deal with the Palestinians. It didn’t.
What’s interesting about these primary elections is that after tonight, anything can happen. Something new can grow out of the split of the main opposition party. Netanyahu and the Likud are safely ahead in the polls, and the dire need of the opposition camp to create something akin to a sweeping message may lead to dramatic moves. Anything can happen, from a big bang unification of left-wing parties, from Kadima to Meretz, to a small bang such as Livni and Lapid joining forces.
Mofaz arrives at these elections with a clear advantage, but the battle is far from being decided. Be the results as they may, Livni has already lost this round. Even if she’s the one making a victory speech at the end of the night, it cannot be ignored that the person credited with winning the party all of its seats in the current Knesset is being pushed out by those who are sitting in those seats. There isn’t much political rationale behind it, aside from wanting to get rid of her, as over half of the party supports her rival and elections are not yet on the horizon.
It’s hard to find a bigger expression of no confidence in Livni's leadership than that.