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Livni’s mandate

As Israeli pundits are falling over themselves to point out, Tzipi Livni’s mandate to serve as Israel’s next prime minister came solely from the mere 17,000 people who voted for her in yesterday’s primary.

Here are some of the different ways they are illustrating this point:

More people will arrive at the Yarkon Park to see Paul McCartney perform than the number of people who bothered to show up at poling stations in order to elect the person who may become Israel’s next prime minister. This is the bothersome fact that emerged from the Kadima primaries, which ended up culminating in a tight race. A total of 0.5% percent of the public – this is the mandate received by a leader during one of the most fateful and complex periods in the State of Israel’s history. – Sima Kadmon, Ynet

A decade ago, she was a fairly anonymous public sector official, at the helm of the Government Companies’ Authority, a post to which she was appointed – ironically, given the challenge she now presents to his ambitions – by Likud leader and then-prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. She barely scraped into the Knesset for the first time in 1999 – 18th of the 19 Likud members who made it. Rapidly promoted all the way to foreign minister, she was truly tested only during the Second Lebanon War two years ago; her ostensible diplomatic achievements have proved significantly less than compelling. And now look at her, a mere Olmertian resignation away from the prime ministership. – David Horovitz, Jerusalem Post

She began nine years ago as head of the Government Corporations Authority, and now she is a step away from being head of the government. All her previous posts came to her because of a rare combination of circumstances. A junior minister under Sharon, she was promoted to justice minister after Shinui left the cabinet, and, eventually, foreign minister after Ariel Sharon fell ill. On Wednesday, she was elected Kadima chairman by some 20,000 voters. Ninet Tayeb needed ten times that to win the “A Star is Born” television talent show. – Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz

If the Israeli punditry has a problem with the size of Livni’s mandate, why did they set the Kadima winner up for this scenario by excoriating Ehud Olmert in the press until he resigned, thereby forcing this strange election? Olmert may well prove to be guilty of corruption, but Israeli media didn’t bother to wait for evidence.

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