Shelly Yachimovich's victory is nothing short of an upheaval. The broadcaster who entered politics six years ago defeated, in two election rounds, two former party leaders and a veteran minister.
The social protest provided her with tailwind just the right time. She recruited her supporters on the Internet, in the street and with minimum contributions. She changed the rules. She created a new arena, unfamiliar to the party's veterans and functionaries, a ring in which only she could win. In these senses she generated an earthquake, in the Labor Party in particular and in politics in general.
Yachimovich's real test began yesterday, on entering the party chairman's office. Like some of her predecessors she might discover that the fun part of her extraordinary journey to the party's leadership was getting elected.
The hard, frustrating part is to control a body that is uncontrollable. She might find the distance between a big promise and a bitter disappointment is much shorter than her successful campaign. All Labor's leaders in the past decade were ejected from office, embittered, bruised, defeated. Yachimovich - the first woman to head Labor since Golda Meir - needs a lot of luck, unusual capabilities and a miracle or two to break this gloomy tradition. Her days of grace are numbered.
She will have to learn to work as part of a team and cooperate with others, to be pleasant to her colleagues, to stop being a soloist. She will have to understand she is part of a group.
She will have to learn to accept criticism. She does not need to learn how to be a fighting opposition. She was that, even as part of the coalition. Her election could change Labor's DNA. It could infuse new, younger blood into its sclerotic arteries.
She received the blessing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Both see her election as good news for their parties, Likud and Atzmaut, because they believe Yachimovich will gnaw at Kadima and weaken it.
In the short term, Yachimovich's election for Labor leader poses a strategic threat to Kadima's leader Tzipi Livni. In fact this is the first serious threat on Kadima since its establishment in November 2005. If the votes continue spilling (in public opinion polls ) from Kadima to Labor, Livni's chances of beating her rival Shaul Mofaz once again will be severely diminished.
See more in Week's End.
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