Gloom and despair at Blue and White event following election failure

There were no cheering crowds at the party’s gathering in the Hangar 11 events hall of the Tel Aviv port district, and little hope.

A supporter reacts as results of the exit polls are shown at Benny Gantz's Blue and White party headquarters, following Israel's national election, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 2 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
A supporter reacts as results of the exit polls are shown at Benny Gantz's Blue and White party headquarters, following Israel's national election, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 2
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
There were no cheering crowds at the Blue and White gathering in the Hangar 11 events hall at Tel Aviv Port – no balloons and no joyous celebrations, no party leaders and little hope.

The best description for what was supposed to be a Blue and White election-night celebration was “silent as a morgue.” 
After the results came through, a few lonely and forlorn Blue and White MKs wandered around the event hall, grim faced and glum at the severe reversal of fortunes the center-left bloc suffered on Monday, and offering various explanations to the media, as well as hoping against hope that the exit polls would be proven wrong come Tuesday morning.
 
After close to more than 12 months of campaigning, and, in particular, the success of becoming the largest party in the September election, the despondency among the party’s MKs and supporters was easy to understand.

MK Yoaz Hendel, who has been a prominent and enthusiastic campaigner for Blue and White throughout all three elections, looked particularly downcast.

The MK started out acknowledging that his party “had not succeeded,” although the magnanimity of this concession was not great bearing in mind Blue and White’s poor showing.

He of course urged caution in assessing the results of the exit polls, noting that Blue and White celebrated an election win in April and ended up with a lot of egg on its face when it turned out that the right-wing was closer to a government than the center-left.

“Let’s wait to see the real results in the morning,” said Hendel, echoing the fervently recited mantra of all desperate politicians when the exit polls don’t go there way.

He also sought to play down the potential consequences of the election result if the right-wing bloc remains on the 60 MKs the exit polls predicted, saying it would leave the country in the same place as it was back after the first election in April, without a government.

Hendel denied that any of the Blue and White MKs would think about deserting to Likud, possibly with MK Omer Yankelevich in mind, although he said he could not vouch for MKs in other parties, likely thinking of former Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy-Abecassis.

And he blamed the mud slung during the “ugly” campaign at Blue and White for the paucity of its results, in implicit reference to the decision by the acting state attorney to open up an investigation into the Fifth Dimension company, which Gantz formerly chaired.

It was that announcement that precipitated Blue and White’s fall from grace in the polls in late February, and stymied the momentum it had been building.

Ultimately, Hendel fell back on the bromides of urging all parties and their leaders to begin thinking about healing the rifts in society after three bruising elections.

If the fortunes of Blue and White and the center-left don’t pick up overnight as the real results come in, Hendel and the rest of his party may not have much say in such a process.