Liberal Union Leadership Election, December 2020

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The Liberal Union leadership election was a vote to replace Joseph Cohen as leader of the Liberal Union, a political party in the Islamic Emirate of Acre, after their defeat in the December 2020 general election.

Background

Premiership of Joseph Cohen

Censure of Joseph Cohen

December general election

After Cohen's censure, many feared the Liberal Union would fare poorly in a general election. After rumours that Cohen was seeking support from the Peace & Equality Party for a vote of no confidence, Prime Minister Ben Adelman initiated one himself; some suspect Adelman hoped to capitalise on the Liberal Union's unpopularity. The government narrowly lost the vote by 19-18, triggering the December 2020 general election.

As was feared, the Liberal Union's support collapsed - the party saw a 10% drop in their vote share, losing them four seats in the Akkan Parliament. Shortly after, Cohen announced he would resign as party leader, stating that new leadership and ideas were needed if the party hoped to remain relevant in the future.

Candidates

Miriam Bar

Miriam Bar had previously been a member of the Labor Zionist Party, but defected after they chose to enter into coalition with the Conservative Party and the Movement for the Homeland instead of left-leaning Akkan parties. Bar entered the leadership election as the only candidate from the centre-left social democratic caucus - she was also the only person to nominate herself from within the party's parliamentary caucus.

Bar explicitly recommended moving the party towards the centre-left, in the hope of winning back voters lost to the Labor Zionists and the Peace & Equality Party. A significant amount of the party coalesced around her early on, leading many to suspect that she would be one of the two candidates in the election's second vote. Many criticised her strategy however, noting that the Liberal Union's downfall had began during the October 2020 general election, when mostly right-leaning liberals defected to the Conservatives.

Michelle Levin

Michelle Levin was seen by many as a via media candidate. Though she had been elected in the February 2020 general election, she had not held office under Cohen's tenure, and so was able to distance herself from the party's unpopular COVID-19 response. As a member of the centrist caucus, many believed she was best placed to win back both left-leaning and right-leaning liberals. Some however criticised Levin for her lack of experience.

Isaac Fein

Isaac Fein was seen as the closest thing to a continuity candidate. Having served as Chancellor under Joseph Cohen, Fein had been responsible for many of the Liberal Union's most popular policies, including the two-flag, two-religion compromise, and the establishment of Rabbinical courts. He was, however, also closely associated with the government's opposition to a national lockdown, arousing fears that the Liberal Union would continue to be plagued by the issue if Fein was elected leader.

Though a member of the party's centrist caucus, Fein retained links to the centre-right economic liberal caucus; some suggested Fein would move the party to the right, hoping to win right-leaning voters lost to the Conservative Party; many suggested that such a strategy however would discourage left-leaning voters from returning.

Results

Candidate Caucus MP Nominations Votes (1st Round) Votes (2nd Round)
Miriam Bar Social Democrat 1 40% 45%
Michelle Levin Centrist 2 35% 55%
Isaac Fein Centrist 3 25% N/A

Aftermath

Both losing candidates congratulated Michelle Levin after she secured victory in the second ballot. Anonymous sources close to Fein however suggest he was shocked by the result, having expected to comfortably win the vote. In her victory speech, Levin reiterated the need for a balanced and considered manifesto which would appeal to both left-leaning and right-leaning voters. She also stated that the Liberal Union had to dramatically change its policy on COVID-19 response, and had to work with other parties - including the government - to deliver change. She also offered an olive branch to both Fein and Bar, promising each of them a position in any future Liberal Union-led government.

Joseph Cohen, and a number of other party leaders (including Prime Minister Adelman) also congratulated Levin for her victory; Cohen stated that he believed Levin was a good choice to rebuild trust in the Liberal Union, despite having endorsed Isaac Fein.