ISRAEL: Exit polls from the country’s sixth election in four years suggest that the former Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, may have squeaked out a narrow victory with the aid of new far-right partners.
When voting ended on Tuesday at 10 p.m. (8 p.m. GMT), Israel’s public television and two private stations predicted that his Likud party would win 30 or 31 seats.
A majority in the 120-seat Knesset is expected to be achieved by the right-wing religious alliance of the longstanding leader, which is predicted to gain 61 or 62 members overall.
In the early hours of Wednesday, Netanyahu gave the impression that he was being cautious, saying that while his party is “alive and kicking,” its supporters should hold off on celebrating until the results were in.
It was anticipated that Yair Lapid, the current prime minister, and leader of the centrist Yesh Atid, would win 24 seats, giving his party a total of 54 seats and challenging the longtime premier.
Four additional seats would go to a coalition in favor of Arab rights, which may or may not back Lapid’s center-left group.
All 36 parties engaged in a vigorous final push of marketing to entice people to leave the house during Tuesday’s 15-hour voting window out of concern for turnout among a worn-out electorate.
Netanyahu may win a third term as prime minister thanks to a surge in his new allies, the right-wing extreme Religious Zionist party.
However, because the polls are only preliminary, the final results could vary as soon as the votes are counted in the following hours.
No one party wins a parliamentary majority in Israel’s fractured political system; therefore governing requires forging coalitions.
An hour after the exit poll, Israeli media reported that a struggling Arab nationalist party appeared to be getting closer to the electoral threshold, which would give it four seats and eliminate Netanyahu’s slim projected margin. The following few days’ coalition horsetrading could also result in a very different final image.
Voters hoped to end the paralyzing political impasse of the last few years by turning out in more significant numbers on Tuesday than they had in decades for the high-stakes election.