Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sharon: What could happen next

Boston Globe:

Precedent: Ariel Sharon, 77, is the oldest serving Israeli prime minister. But his strokes are not the first health scare to hit the office. In 1969, Prime Minister Levy Eshkol died in office and his deputy, Yigal Allon, served as caretaker leader until the Labor Party chose Golda Meir as successor. When Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995, Shimon Peres assumed power until general elections. Menachem Begin experienced numerous health problems, including heart attacks, depression, and a stroke, while in office in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Aides sometimes hid his afflictions, and no caretaker leader was named.

Succession: If an Israeli prime minister becomes incapacitated, the deputy premier assumes the post for 100 days. Then, Israel's ceremonial president meets with political leaders and chooses someone to form a coalition government.

Possible successors: Kadima includes a mix of politicians who have left the hard-line Likud party and dovish Labor party. If Sharon cannot run, potential replacements include Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, former premier Shimon Peres, and Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Ehud Olmert.