In a surprising move, it looks like Ehud Olmert won’t be leaving so soon afterall, after surviving three no-confidence votes in the Knesset. Olmert’s biggest rival within the Kadima Party, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is also holding her fire and not challenging Olmert.
Even though Olmert survived, it’s not sure how long his coalition can last. The cracks are already showing as the weakened government is unable to accomplish much and the public has lost confidence in Olmert’s leadership. Olmert is as unpopular as it is statistically possible to be — his 3% approval rating is within the margin of error. Even Livni is taking political fire for sticking with Olmert.
The biggest winner in this seems to be Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud. Livni was the only realistic challenger to Olmert within Kadima, and when the current government falls — which seems inevitable, Netanyahu is the one most likely to become Prime Minister.
Olmert may have won this battle, but the war is almost certainly lost. By clinging to power, he’s taking Ms. Livni down with him, which only makes the collapse of the Kadima coalition more likely to destroy the party than it would be if he had stepped down and allowed Livni to take his place.