UPDATE: Centrist Political Shift Weakens Netanyahu
UPDATE: With 90 percent of the vote counted, Israel Radio reported Wednesday that Netanyahu’s conservative Likud-Beiteinu ticket was poised to take 31 of Parliament’s 120 seats. The right wing and religious parties that make up Netanyahu’s current coalition combined for 60 seats, equal to the total won by the center, left and Arab parties. To form the new government, Netanyahu will be forced to bing in into his coalition a centrist party, most likely the “There Is A Future” party which surprisingly finished second by capturing 19 seats.
The prime minister called the party's boss, Yair Lapid, shortly after the polls closed Tuesday night and, according to Israeli television reports, told him that they had great things to do together for the country. (The New York Times)
Exit polls show Israeli right winning a narrow victory over the centrists in today’s election for the 19th Knesset. According to these polls, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud-Beiteinu list is performing far worse than expected, although he is still expected to serve a third term as premier.
The polls closed at 10 p.m. local time (3 p.m. EST). Netanyahu-Lieberman list is now expected to win only 30 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. More significantly, the exit polls show a tight race between the bloc of hard-right and religious parties, with a razor-thin majority of 61 seats, to 59 for the center-left factions.
“Israelis are asking for a moderate coalition,” said Marcus Sheff, executive director of The Israel Project, an advocacy group. “Israel’s middle class wasn’t asleep as people assumed. The embers of the social protest are still strong.” (The New York Times, 22 January)
Photo credit: Yair Lapid speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv. Wednesday 23 January 2013. His centrist party became the second-largest faction in the Knesset. (Oliver Weiken/European Pressphoto Agency/New York Times)