Thursday, May 03, 2007
What's going to happen next?
It's really too bad that none of us were on the ground in Tel Aviv, taking part in and observing the demonstration - we would have gotten a much better sense of the atmosphere. Nevertheless, in response to Ariel's query, I'll put some of my speculation out there.
First, I think that the government will hold on for another month at least.
There is a no-confidence vote scheduled for Monday. I don't think it will garner a majority, despite some of the Labor MKs who will vote against the government. But in another month, the Labor Party will have its primaries, and Peretz will definitely be kicked out.
If Livni resigns, Olmert will replace her with Peres or Sheetrit. If she doesn't resign, however, it will be difficult for Olmert to fire her, as this could upset the coalition (esp. the Labor party). He will definitely have to wait until after the no-confidence vote.
Bibi, as I've said several times before, is in an excellent position. Some people might confuse the Rabin Square protests with anti-war demonstrations; they weren't. People are upset that Israel didn't score a more decisive victory. Most of those who came to demand Olmert's resignation believe that the war was justified but poorly executed. A lot of these people are centrists, but given a choice today, they would probably choose Bibi even over Livni, and certainly over Olmert. However, some of them might warm to Barak or Ayalon too. The key factors for people now are experience in leading the country and a security background.
I think Kadima is there to stay. I don't foresee Livni going over to the Labor Party, and she won't go back to the Likud either. She doesn't have enough followers to start her own movement. The next contest for the party leadership is between her and Sheetrit.
Anyway, I'm not very good with predictions, and I have a sense that we are still in for some big surprises over the next few days. Maybe the coalition will be expanded. Maybe Livni will find her way to the top after all. And maybe, due to a combination of people not showing up to vote and a higher-than-expected anti-Olmert vote among Labor and Kadima, the no-confidence motion will actually pass.
ADDENDUM (Friday): Even if the Labor Party were to leave the coalition, it might be possible for Olmert to stay in power by pulling United Torah Judaism into the coalition. It would be a very slim majority but enough, I think.