What Next for Likud?
With controversial ex-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit purportedly close to making a plea bargain to end the current legal proceedings against him whatever the outcome, a question left unanswered must be ‘what next for Likud?’
Should the favorite for any leadership-spill the urbane Nir Barkat succeed in becoming the next leader of Likud, another question looms significant what direction would he most likely take the center-right party after years of Netanyahu dominating Likuds policies and cowering any potential threats to his leadership and despite the evidence that has been raked up in support of the charges against Netanyahu they appear as forced as they are distorted; for the ex-Prime Minister is no better or worse than those who preceded him. If Binyamin Netanyahu is guilty of one thing that might well be of a man so mastered by his political genius that he lived in a land of illusions at times. So convinced was he of his powers and good fortune, he had a wholly incalculable antipathy for the thoughts or ideas of others he disliked. Should this prove Bibi’s Waterloo, it will be the end of an era that brought much good to the country irrespective of its shortcomings.
In Nir Barkat, we find a politician very different from Netanyahu. He appears to be prudent, but one would be making a mistake to assume he would be more cautious than his predecessor. Though adept at defensive strategies, when conditions are favorable, he can be audacious while employing tactics that require common sense: when situations present themselves demanding prudence, he will be prudent, and when they do not, he will act decisively.
How much difference does leadership make in politics? Can be answered briefly by observing the lack of leadership in the present Bennett government. Not every prime minister is a titan however ideological consistency and electoral honesty are two signs of the stature of a political leader whether he or she succeeds in setting the agenda of politics.
Unfortunately for the country Prime Minister Bennett and his cabinet have failed to inculcate the above criteria in their policies or their leadership qualities.
Nir Barkat will serve his party well by setting the agenda of a future conservative coalition while mobilizing political support from the disaffected as well as inviting the Religious Zionist party to join him in turning the ship of state around setting a new course ideological, political, authentically Jewish in nature and Jewish in fact.
If Barkat gets a chance to lead and opts for the status quo nothing substantial will be achieved and the opportunity for Jewish leadership will have run to waste and more disappointment for years to come.
In a nutshell, Barkat will need to formulate a vision about the direction in which policy ought to be developed while projecting electoral appeal and putting together a winning coalition of effective support. The stress must fall on rational persuasion, on executive efficiency, on charismatic oratory, on party organization, on institutional power-broking, or on high-political scheming.
What will distinguish Nir Barkat, in the end, is whether he takes the chance if it’s given to him.