Livni loses Kadima leadership

In the Kadima leadership primary, current leader of the opposition Tzipi Livni lost to intraparty challenger Shaul Mofaz.

Livni did not just lose. She was trounced, getting only 37% of the vote in a two-person race.

OK, my party-historian readers, how many cases of sitting party leaders of major parties have ever lost an internal leadership contest that badly?

On the question of participation in these sorts of internal leadership elections–which we were discussing in a Canadian context earlier in the week–the turnout for Kadima’s primary was 38.2%. ((There were 95,000 eligible, compared to 74,000 in the previous primary, when Livni narrowly beat Mofaz.))

Mofaz will now become the party’s third leader in just over six years since its founder, then-PM Ariel Sharon, was incapacitated.

What will Livni do now? It is hard to see her hanging around the caucus of a party that just humiliated her.

15 thoughts on “Livni loses Kadima leadership

  1. Three examples from Canada:
    Joe Clark lost the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives 55-45 to Brian Mulroney in 1983.

    Preston Manning, leader of the Reform Party, lost to Stockwell Day 63-37 when Reform transformed into the Canadian Alliance.

    Two years later, Stephen Harper successfully challenged Day for leadership of the Alliance and won 55-37.

  2. A fourth one from Canada:

    Hazen Argue, leader of the CCF, lost his leadership by a 79-21 margin to Tommy Douglas when the CCF merged with the Canadian Labour Congress to become the NDP.

    • I suppose leadership races after party mergers are sort of a different animal, but still they offer cases of leaders entering contests in which they either very badly miscalculated their likely support, or were willing to tolerate embarrassment. (When the party has changed fundamentally, as with a merger, it must surely be harder to calculate how one will fare.)

      This sort of information is a perfect example of why I love having this blog! Thanks, Joffré.

  3. I think there might be a selection-bias at work here. For leaders likely to lose that badly, dropping out is likely the preferred alternative. The LDP’s Kono Yohei was going to lose that badly in 1995 in Japan, so he dropped out at the last minute and Koizumi Junichiro had to be drafted to be the sacrificial lamb to the victorious Hashimoto Ryutaro. Of course, Koizumi got his revenge in 2001.

  4. > “For leaders likely to lose that badly, dropping out is likely the preferred alternative”

    Mutandis mutatis for Truman and LBJ in 1952 (PS: not 1948 as I wrote elsewhere, my bad) and 1968 respectively. Although there were also health issues. We “know” in hindight that, even if Johnson had run again and won in 1968, he would only have outlived his “second” term by two days.

  5. Call me pedantic but I would mutate ‘mutandis mutatis’ back to the traditional ‘mutatis mutandis’.

  6. Denmark 1992: Social Democratic deputy chairman Poul Nyrup Rasmussen challenged chairman Svend Auken and won 359-187 at a special party congress.

  7. Alan, as you know, Latin word order is very flexible. There are at least two variations of the legal maxims about “leges priores…” and “delegatus non potest…”

  8. Latin word order is certainly mutable, but this is not a Latin phrase. It is an English phrase drawn from Latin. Googling the exact phrase ‘mutatis mutandis’ gives 6,010,000 results. ‘mutandis mutatis’ returns 4,360.

    quod est demonstrandum


    res ipsa locatur


    quem di vult perdere prius dementant


    de gustibus non est disputandum

  9. One example from France: Alain Savary lost the leadership of the new Socialist Party (created in 1969) to Francois Mitterrand in june 1971 (43 926 mandates against 41 757 and 3925 abstentions).

  10. JLT, was that a [very large] convention of delegates, or some kind of [smallish] intra-party primary election?

  11. The 1971 Epinay party congress was a large convention of a thousand of delegates. Party “federations” (departmental organizations) had a number of mandates proportional to membership.

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