Kadima's Big Bang

A new center.

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Is this kind of political centrism--seeking to accommodate the views of the majority through a combination of pragmatism and principles, substance and spin--desirable? From one perspective, Kadima's centrist, consensual politics reflected the genuine concerns of an increasingly non-ideological society. But can democracy retain its vitality without a genuine clash between clear philosophical alternatives?

In the absence of this kind of debate, the Big Bang of Israeli politics might turn out to be a damp squib--at least on the ideological level. And in terms of the party system, Kadima's leaders might do well to remember the fate of the Third Way, Tzomet, and the Center Party--previous incarnations of political centrism, all of which have vanished without a trace. Will Kadima successfully ignite a Big Bang? The question will likely take several years to answer, but there's reason to predict cautiously. In the elections, on March 28, 2006, Kadima won 29 seats in the Knesset, the most of any party, but far fewer than originally forecasted, and Kadima's Ehud Olmert became Prime Minister.

In 2008, Ehud Olmert stepped down as party leader of Kadima, and Tzipi Livni replaced him. Livni was unable to form a coalition, and early elections were called for February 2009. Kadima again won the most seats of any party, this time 28 seats rather than 29, only one more seat than Likud. Likud, however, was asked to form the government, probably because it was more likely to be able to form a coalition government, and Likud’s Binyamin Netanyahu became Prime Minister. In the eighteenth Knesset, Kadima is the leader of the opposition in the Knesset.

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Matt Plen

Matt Plen is the Chief Executive of Masorti Judaism in the UK. He has taught and trained educators in diverse institutions in Israel, the UK and the USA and is currently researching his doctorate on Critical Pedagogy and Jewish Ideologies of Social Justice.