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Three minutes before the results of the television channels' exit polls were announced, the applause had already started.

Rhythmic, planned, mechanical, almost automatic. Someone pulled a Kadima flag out - yes, there is such a thing - and waved it.

In the banquet hall of the luxury hotel, with more photographers than party members, there was not even any tension.

Four, three, two, one, just like before a launch, and then the exciting news: A two seat advantage for Kadima on all the channels.

A wave of joy? A river of happy tears? Not at all.

A group of party hacks, minor leaguers all, from this party of refugees broke out in a Hassidic-like circle dance.

Someone passed out small Israeli flags, another broke out in song - but it all seemed to be overdone.

An embarrassing election campaign came to its end with a hollow joy, a small comfort. Such an embarrassing campaign could not end any other way.

Slaps on the back, hugs and kisses.

"What a victory," cried the hacks. The loudspeakers blared out the party's theme song continuously, but even the wretched tune could not lift anyone's spirits, it just reflected on the party itself.

In world capitals they breathed a sigh of relief, Israel was rescued at the last minute from a right-wing and nationalist leadership; but no one is talking about the "dawn of a new day."

The road ahead is still a long one. After all, U.S. President Barack Obama was not elected last night, only Tzipi Livni.