Kadima in Hebrew which means « forward » in English, was the name chosen by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to found his new political party after leaving the right-wing Likud Party. Sharon decided to choose a rather centrist orientation based on regulated relations between Israel and Palestine.

Dissensions within the Likud Party

In 2005, the purpose of Ariel Sharon to withdraw the Israeli colonies from Gaza Strip caused divisions within both the Likud Party and the Israeli society. However, while the Prime Minister became more popular for the Israeli population, serious tensions drove him apart from other Likud members, especially Benjamin Netanyahu, his Minister of finance and main opponent within the party.

Along with those dissensions, other events led to the departure of Sharon from the Likud Party. For instance, the decision of Labour party ministers to resign from the Ariel Sharon’s Government left him without support against his opponents within the Likud. Moreover, the election of Amir Peretz as leader of the Labour party, brought to light social issues as a priority of the Left which took advantage of it. Therefore, the Left benefited of popular support usually allocated to Likud.

Because of this weakening situation of Likud, Sharon decided to organize anticipate elections and to announce the creation of a new moderate party, called Kadima. He left the Likud party followed by Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

Kadima’s Political programme

At the beginning, the political views of Kadima were those of Ariel Sharon. Its moderate and centrist political views invited members of other political parties to join the Knesset.

Kadima believed that the long-term welfare of the country would depend on the protection of the Jew majority in Israel. After the withdrawal from Gaza, Kadima contributed to the withdrawal of settlers in Cisjordania. It also supported the project whose aim was to define new borders with Palestine. In case negotiations with the Palestinian Authority would fail, the borders should unilaterally be defined. Also, for the Right than as well as for the Left, the new party might represent a common space gathering together ancient and new proponents about territorial agreement.

The founding father of Kadima firmly believed in the Road Map to peace that he, himself, negotiated with the Quartet. He found a faithful ally in Georges W. Bush.

Because of social disapproval concerning the second intifada and because of expenses allocated to the defence of the colonies, once more, economic questions represented a crucial political issue. Those questions became even more important since the lull created by the withdrawal from Gaza. Kadima party should then find a social line between Likud and the Left.

Doubts emerged over Sharon’s hospitalisation

On December the 18th 2005, Ariel Sharon was treated for a minor stroke. Then, on January the 4th 2006, he suffered a significant one. He was carried to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem. This situation aroused many doubts concerning Sharon’s abilities to govern.
On January the 16th 2006, Ehud Olmert has been appointed acting leader of the party.

The elections of March 28th, 2006

After Ariel Sharon’s hospitalisation, Ehud Olmert became Kadima leader and led the elections scheduled for 28 March. The cornerstone of his political programme was to set permanent borders for Israel by 2010.

Because of Sharon’s absence, the party’s future prospects were uncertain. Even though Ariel Sharon did not officially participate in the elections, Ehud Olmert profusely referred to him in his campaign. On March 28th, Kadima won the legislative elections but the results were not as good as expected.

Indeed, Kadima party, led by Ehud Olmert, won 28 seats in the 120-member parliament, the Knesset.