Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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After three months of creative and controversial campaigns that pitted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against The Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, and after over 70 percent of Israel’s population came out to vote in Tuesday’s elections, Israel has no clear winner. While Netanyahu appears to have a better chance, it is President Reuven Rivlin who will decide to whom he first offers the opportunity to build a coalition. Hold on to your chairs because this could take weeks, if not months.

With the two main parties tied with 27 mandates according to most exit polls, the next stage of Israel’s election process lies at President Reuven Rivlin’s doorstep. Each party will head over to the president’s residence to recommend a candidate – Netanyahu or Herzog (or someone else). Then Rivlin will turn to the candidate of his choice and ask him to put together a coalition.

The candidate then has 28 days to negotiate with the various parties in order to put together a majority coalition of at least 61 members of Knesset. If the president’s chosen candidate cannot put together a coalition within 28 days, he can ask for an extension of 14 days. If, after the extra 14 days the candidate still cannot put together a coalition, the president can then choose another candidate to try and put together a coalition. If the coalition is approved by the president, the candidate goes on to become the new prime minister.