After 2 Years in Opposition, Netanyahu Smells the Old, Familiar Scent of Power

After two and a half years of warming the opposition benches with a paltry 12 seats, after the party was nearly decimated in the 2006 elections following the Kadima split, the members of Likud are starting to smell the old, familiar scent of power.

The energy is back, the polls are flattering, the alliance with Shas has been renewed and the future seems promising. Likud is the only party that genuinely sought general elections. Plus, ever since the Second Lebanon War ended, Likud had been consistently leading in the polls.

Likud will be coming to the 2009 elections with little internal dissent. Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu wrapped up the issue of primaries back in 2007, when he ran unopposed except for Moshe Feiglin.

The front with Silvan Shalom is quieter than ever. Now all that's left is the jostling for slots on the party Knesset list.

The list will be determined in an open primary election, in accordance with Netanyahu's changes to the party's charter in 2006, when Likud was fighting for its life. He took the selection process out of the hands of the party's corrupt central committee, and entrusted it with all members.

Netanyahu sought to demonstrate that he was cleaning out the stables and cleaning up the central committee's act, with the hope of landing a few extra seats in the process.

Sharing a dream

That last goal was not reached, but Netanyahu did succeed in wiping out the central committee's absolute power within Likud, and ended its old carnivorous ways.

Now, Netanyahu shares a dream with the rest of Likud's members: seeing the demise of Kadima, the party whose formation nearly spelled Likud's end. Polls project that Likud will take 30 seats in the elections. Those seats, coveted by dozens seeking a slot on the Likud Knesset list, will be the source of fierce competition, and will be determined by some 100,000 registered Likud members. The wooing is set to begin in the very near future.

Netanyahu attempted, and failed, to secure his cronies slots on the list. Now, Netanyahu's dream team will have to join the rest of the contenders on the campaign trail, roving between one party headquarters to the next to garner more votes.