November 21, 2005

Sharon Leaves the Likud

It's finally happened. Jonathan provides a concise analysis of the implications of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon leaving the Likud here. The key thing I think we need to watch for at this point is whether or not Sharon can get any prominent Labor members to join him, and what happens to Shinui. Those matters will be key in determining whether or not Sharon's party becomes a truly centrist major party or whether it simply represents the "moderate" side of Likud.

Posted by armand at November 21, 2005 09:19 AM | TrackBack | Posted to International Affairs


How much can he count on personalist networks to keep his support base and transfer to the new party? Will it essentially be old wine in new bottles, or is the new party really going to be something different?

Posted by: binky at November 21, 2005 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Well, this is why I brought up watching what the pre-existing "centrists" do. He'll pull in personal fans, and some Likud "moderates", and staunch allies like Ehud Olmert. And his personal popularity will do a lot to help his party in the coming elections. But the degree to which this becomes a fundamental change in the shifting tectonic plates underneath Israeli politics depends on his ability to get non-Likud support, and, of course, on who the Likud chooses as its next leader. That latter point will be key in determining how strong the Right is in the elections - and beyond.

Posted by: Armand at November 21, 2005 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting. I asked because in my part of the world, party changing, switching and inventing isn't that much of a big deal. I've followed individual candidates that have gone from the Social Democrats to the Greens to the Liberals (as in, free market liberals) over a period of about 15 years. As I know little (or at least, a lot less than you do) about ME politics, I wasn't sure if the kind of personalist networks would operate.

Posted by: binky at November 21, 2005 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Well, the conventional wisdom is to compare this to the party created by David Ben-Gurion (and Shimon Peres, then a hard-liner) back in the 1960's. But I think this is somewhat different given 1) Sharon is currently the PM and Ben-Gurion wasn't and 2) Sharon pretty clearly established both a specific record and a rather clear direction for future policies, to run on.

Still, the man is ancient, and so I think getting a few other big names to join him is key if this is supposedly going to last beyond his own leadership. And so far, they haven't really appeared. But if he could get several Dan Meridors and a couple of disgruntled people from Labor and Shinui to join him and Olmert, this party might out live him.

Still, the electoral rules in Israel encourage a plethora of parties, so it's hard to predict which will last and which won't. Maybe this will be a new major force in the center. Or maybe, after elections, it will be, in practice, the Right, displacing Likud and the parties to its Right (albeit a Right that appears less dangerous or suicidal than some of the extremists at that end of the spectrum).

Posted by: Armand at November 21, 2005 11:24 AM | PERMALINK
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