Fifty-two hours before the mandate he was given expired, much like Cinderella who rushed out of the ball lest she turn into a pumpkin at midnight, Benjamin Netanyahu admitted his failure to form a government and returned the power of attorney to the president.
For 26 days the prime minister was tasked with establishing a coalition, and at no point did he come any closer to that goal. For the first time in a decade, and for the first time in four consecutive election campaigns, the mandate will be passed on to a candidate who isn’t Netanyahu.
Since last night, shortly after the Simhat Torah holiday ended, Netanyahu is prime minister only by name. He has yet to be separated from his post, and definitely not from the power that comes with it. But one sould not underestimate the psychological affect on the public of seeing President Reuven Rivlin tasking Benny Gantz.
This effect will also be felt by the political system and Netanyahu family, all of whom have grown used to seeing coalition negotiations as a mere formality that ends in a festive photo op and clicking of champagne glasses at the president’s residence.
Gantz managed to do what much more experienced politicians than him – such as Tzipi Livni, Shelly Yacimovitch and Isaac Herzog – all failed to accomplish over the years. But his chances of forming a government in the coming 28 days are slim, perhaps even slimmer than those Netanyahu had. The election results are familiar to all, and no fairy can appear and magically move blocks around so that they add up to a governing majority.