Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bibi is the Winner as Barak Leaves Labor to Sit as an Independance

It takes tremendous skill both in strategy and foresight to rise to power to lead a Government and hold on to that power over a period of time. In many cases these skills are much more important then the ability to govern. Jean Chretien, Bill Davis, Stephen Harper, Brian Mulroney are examples of political leaders who have succeeded. The flip side are Joe Clark, Paul Martin, Kim Campbell and Joe Tory who just couldn't pull it off.

The biggest failure in recent Israeli politics is without a doubt Tzipi Livni. When she took over as chairperson for Kadima she could not get Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign. This meant she had to form her own coalition from scratch instead of inheriting the Government at the time. She failed forcing elections to be called. She then beat out Likud by one mandate but couldn't convince anyone that she deserved first shot at forming a Government.

Yesterday, Defence Minister Ehud Barak quit the Labor Party to form his own Atzmaut (Independance) Party, taking 4 more MKs with him. A lot is being made on Barak's motivations but the steps by Bibi to engineer this move have been mostly over looked.

When Bibi was given the mandate to form the government his goal was to form a stable Government. He managed to get enough parties on board, so that he was in a position to weather threats by smaller parties to quit the coalition. Bringing in Labor had some extra benefits. Barak proved himself to be a competent military leader both during Cast Lead and destroying Jewish homes, where the only reason they were illegal is they did not have his signature.

Half the party choose to stay in the opposition. However a Labor Party by-law meant that any of those MKs who voted against Labor supported Government legislation would not be allowed to run for Labor in the next election. This party split was difficult on the Government as there were effectively opposition members holding cabinet positions but the balance was even more difficult for Barak to hold on to. The eventual split of the Labor party was inevitable.

Once the dust settles, there are going to be 3 political parties (Artzenu, Kadima, Labor) that will be effective fighting for the same ground on the political spectrum. While the 3 battle it out Bibi will be in a much better position to build support on political territory not being as strongly contested. Bibi once again comes out ahead from another political misfortune that he helped create. The only question is if voters will turn on Barak and put the final nail in his political career.