Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sharon will leave the Likud!

Israeli PM Ariel Sharon is to leave Likud and start his own "centrist party" campaigning mainly for the continuity of Sharon's diplomatic policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians and mitigated free-market economics.

This departure changes the face of Israeli politics in the short-term although as Ha'aretz pointed out, it is clearly a one-term party and many people who are currently high in government are reluctant to leave high spots on their lists to join the Sharon list. Not only would they be potentially sacrificing longer term gains but spot #3 on a different list is well better than spot #8 or 9 on Sharon's.

The question is just how well the new party will do. Labor is rejuvenated under Amir Peretz as a real party of opposition and likely will perform well. Likud will attract the secular-hard-right voters but just how many of those there are is open to question. Sharon will get most of the pragmatists. The losers, by the same token, are the parties of the secular hard right (National Union), Shinui which will likely see votes stolen by Sharon, and Yahad which will see its votes taken by Peretz's Labor.

The consequences of Sharon's move will be seen over the next few weeks and months, but it seems as though there will be an at least somewhat more moderate government to begin the next Knesset.

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