Let me talk for a minute about my favorite part of politics. I do a lot of election-watching, but I'm not always watching the top-level dynamics. Instead, its usually more fun to watch the mid-level legislators and candidates. For one, you don't understand any government unless you know who serves in certain key roles. Secondly, and arguably more importantly, the real fun is not in knowing who is in charge now - but who is on the rise. What are the newest dynamics in a country, and who is ahead of the curve in addressing those new realities. Find those people, and you find the power players of the future.
Hence, I tend to do crazy things ... like diverting my focus to first term Alaskan Governors. So, what I've been watching lately in Israel is not the big players, but all of the young parliamentarians who came in with them - and one in particular seems to be perfectly positioned to capitalize on rightward shift in Israeli politics.
Meet Tzipi Hotovely of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party. At age 30, she's the youngest member of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), but she is far from a neophyte. Instead, she was already a well known right-wing pundit in the Israeli media, and Benjamin Netanyahu personally recruited her as a Likud candidate in the last election. Then, she ran in the party's primary to select Knesset candidates and did far better than expected. Instead of winning "realistic" chance of getting elected, she locked up the 18th slot on the Likud list - ensuring her election and blowing past Likud's more established female leaders.
Even better, she sits well to the right of the Likud mainstream, closer to what Israeli's would call a "religious Zionist" ideology. This is very important, considering that the conservative Likud is hemorrhaging votes to hard-right nationalist parties like Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu. However, Hotovely also seems far more palatable to the mainline in Israeli politics, as she chose to run for a mainstream party and has the personal support of Prime Minister Netanyahu (unlike more hard-line Likud rebels).
The Likud will need leaders like Tzipi Hotovely if it wants to continue to fend off Yisrael Beiteinu, and her media background shows that she has the charisma needed to gather a following (not unlike a certain Alaskan Governor). I personally expect her to rise very fast in the Netanyahu government (although she is not a current cabinet member), and would not be surprised to see her leading the Likud Party herself someday.
She may not be making world headlines just yet, but she definitely has the potential to come from nowhere and rocket to the top of the national scene. So, if anyone in the world is going to be the next Sarah Palin - it's Tzipi Hotovely.