The new right has a mustache
Is there a chance that the Labor Party will form a government with the Likud and the right wing? Let's ask Labor chair Amir Peretz, a day before the elections. "Under no condition," he said then. "It's a cynical step, which doesn't respect the choice of the citizens, and damages the central thing that I brought to politics: credibility and ideology."
In the same conversation, Peretz said: "I will not participate in such a maneuver. There is a gaping chasm between me and [Likud chair Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Yisrael Beiteinu chair Avigdor] Lieberman."
But yesterday it became clear that the National Union-National Religious Party slogan - "A new right is rising" - had grown a mustache. The same politician who said that he wants to be a national ideologue more than he wants to be a national leader has found his path alongside Netanyahu and National Union-NRP politicians Aryeh Eldad, Benny Elon and Effi Eitam. National Union-NRP decided yesterday to recommend to the president that Peretz form the next government, as Labor officials began working on establishing a "social front" coalition that would be led by Peretz and include right-wing parties, but not Kadima.
This is not the new politics that Peretz and the others on his team had promised. It is an alliance of losers who are ignoring the will of the voter and are choosing to get into the same bed for a single objective: To prevent the largest party, Kadima, and its leader, Ehud Olmert, from forming the next government.
The chance of such a government being established is slim. The chance of such a government surviving a year in power is negligible. But the fact that Peretz is even prepared to consider it shows something about him: He is capable of being a sore winner, even when he doesn't win. Peretz garnered only a third of the votes - in spite of his social agenda. But his hatred of Olmert and Kadima - which are far closer to Peretz's social and political outlook than the parties on the right - is distorting his judgment. It is also diminishing the chances that Olmert and Peretz will manage to cooperate in one government, and it brings the Olmert-Peretz government that will ultimately be formed closer to its end, even before it is established.
The government Peretz dreams about - an "emergency social government" - would be the most paralyzed government, the most extorted and distorted government that ever existed here. What chance does the economy have without a political process? It was Peretz himself who said this innumerable times during the election campaign. He also explicitly promised his voters that he would not go with the right, and was not embarrassed to represent himself and his party as proud members of the left. That is why voters elected him.
What do the voters think of him now? In polls conducted before the elections, some 80 percent of Labor voters rejected a Labor-right government that did not include Kadima. If Peretz's machinations work out, he may become prime minister, but he will lose his voters, the left-wing camp - he has already lost Meretz-Yachad - and the support of world leaders.