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Don't leave Amir Peretz out of the equation. He was lambasted by Winograd at least as much as Olmert was. The next big test for the survivability of Olmert is what happens at the Labor party leadership selection, which is coming right up. Peretz is toast, and whoever emerges as the new leader may be someone committed to taking the party out of government. Olmert and Kadima do not have a majority without Labor.

On the other hand, the last thing either Kadima or Labor wants right now is a new election. That could hold them together longer than you might imagine.

We could still see a palace coup with Tzipi Livni or another Kadima leader emerging as PM.

By the way, Kadima is much more of a party than the US Reform Party ever was. It formed not only around a leader (Sharon), but an idea. Unfortunately for them, the idea (unilateral disengagement) is now dead. But there is quite a good core of leaders within the party, many quite young (like Livni). They are not likely to be either welcome in, or desirous of returning to, the parties they came from (principally Likud, but for some Labor).

While Olmert's political obituary is being readied for some time in the near future, it is way too early to write one for his party.


MSS, I think that you're right about Labor and Kadima sticking together for a while to avoid an election -- the fear of losing cabinet posts is a strong incentive -- but I think you overestimate Kadima's internal coherence. Lacking both a clear leader and a viable idea, the only thing that will keep the party together is control of patronage. The leadership contest will deny that control to at least some of the losers, so they will have little reason to remain in the party and plenty of incentive to break away in hopes of holding the balance of power in the next Knesset, so Kadima is likely to see major splits after the post-Olmert leadership contest and then disintegrate like Shinui, though perhaps not quite as spectacularly.

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