With the election closer than expected, Tzipi Livni had to wait long into the night for her victory, which will now be tempered with the realisation that any past challenges in her nine year political career are nothing to those now facing her.
Before any possibility of the premiership she will have to unite a fractured party, bring close a political rival, complete coalition talks and all in 42 days .
Amotz Asa-El, senior columnist for the Jerusalem Post is far from optimistic about her future.
“She does not emerge from this election a national leader. She will now be spending long and very arduous weeks trying to put together the same
coalition that preceded her succession of Ehud Olmert. The more she will try, the more complex it will become and within several months Israel will be compelled to go to an early general election,” he said.
Her Kadima Party holds 29 of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament or Knesset. Its current coalition breaks down into 19 seats held by Labour, seven by the Pensioners party, six by United Torah Judaism, 11 with a party led by the extreme right wing Yisrael Beiteinu, and 12 held by the ultra orthodox, Shas party.
It is a heady mix and a near promethean task to win general agreement – take negotiations with the Palestinians – Kadima is for them but the orthodox Shas – often seen as king-maker in coalition talks, are opposed.
How will Livni reconcile this after she has spent the past nine months heading the Israeli side in peace negotiations with the Palestinian faction Fatah.
Atilla Ahomfalvi, Israeli political analyst and journalist is confident he know how she will proceed.
“Tzipi Livni has an intention to go forward with the negotiations with the Palestinians, perhaps even with the Syrians. We know that Mrs Livni doesn’t really like what has been cooking, let’s say, on the Syrian part, but with the Palestinians she is leading the negotiations and I am more than sure that she is going to continue with that,” he said.
Continue the talks she may, but she has already said that meeting the end-of-year deadline for an agreement set by Washington last November will be difficult, to say the least.
But by then either Livni will have formed a coalition government and possibly have been installed as prime minister, or her time in Israel’s political spotlight may have come and gone.