Voting underway for new Kadima party leader

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Voting underway for new Kadima party leader

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Voting has begun as Israel’s ruling Kadima party chooses a successor to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

And the contenders to replace scandal hit Olmert were making one final push to ensure supporters turn out in force.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, was up early to cast her vote. She remains favourite according to the latest polls with forty seven percent. Nearly twice the support of her main rival Shaul Mofaz.

The former general and transport minister has talked hard on Iran, forging a reputation for being to the right on security.

Despite Livni’s lead in the polls, both sets of supporters remained cautious of victory.

Whoever becomes Kadima’s new leader faces a tough task. Formed three years ago by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Kadima only commands a quarter of parliament. A national election could follow, with polls pointing to big gains for the opposition Likud party.

Around 70,000 members of the governing Kadima party are eligible to vote in the leadership contest. To win, the future leader must get more than 40 percent of the ballot to avoid a run off.

Notoriously difficult to predict, a high turn out is expected to favour Livni.