As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to continue his reign of dominance, exit polls have Tuesday’s election too close to call.
“The final unofficial results were only expected on Wednesday afternoon, but according to an exit poll on Channel 13, whose pollster Camil Fuchs had the most accurate exit poll in the April election, Netanyahu’s Likud Party won 31 seats, and his Center-Right bloc a total of 54 seats,” The Jerusalem Post said. “The Center-Left bloc of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz won 58 and his party won 33.”
Israeli elections are a bit more complex than those in the United States, as they involve multiple small parties that must work together to form a full governmental body after a prime minister is elected. In April, Netanyahu won re-election, but did not have enough small party support to form a new government, and was forced to call for a new election.
The unicameral legislative branch of the Israeli government is called the Knesset, and the number of governmental seats a party receives is directly proportional to the number of votes a party garners. A party must earn at least 3.25 percent of the vote to gain any seats in the Knesset.
One exit poll predicted 13 seats for the Joint List, an alliance of Arab parties which currently represents the third-largest faction in the Knesset. The same exit poll predicted eight seats each for the Yisrael Beytenu party, a secular nationalist party, Shas party, an “ultra-Orthodox” Jewish party, and United Torah Judaism party, also considered to be an Orthodox Jewish party. The poll also predicted that the right-wing Yamina party, the left-wing Democratic Union party, and the Labor-Gesher party, which focuses on socio-economic issues to earn six seats each.
The Otzma Yehudit party, described as “far-right,” did not receive enough votes to cross the threshold of holding any seats.
“Netanyahu, Gantz and other candidates spent the day pleading with voters to leave their homes and the beaches and malls to cast ballots,” Jerusalem Post said.
Netanyahu invoked the support of President Donald J. Trump as he rallied voters to the polls.
“President Trump said yesterday that these are close elections, and I can reaffirm to you this morning that these are very close [elections],” he reportedly said.
Netanyahu had previously promised to annex 30 percent of the West Bank if re-elected.
According to The Jerusalem Post, voting turnout overall was high, and “Arab turnout was up significantly from the 49% in the April 9 election.”
Neither major party is resting on its laurels as the final votes are tallied. In April, that lead to an embarrassing result for Gantz and his party.
“Both large parties planned relatively subdued events, as Netanyahu and Gantz sought to avoid the gaffe after April’s election, in which Gantz declared victory, but the right-wing bloc was bigger and Netanyahu was tasked with forming the coalition,” Jerusalem Post said. “This time around, it seemed even more likely that the exit polls would not give a clear picture of the final result.”
Final election results are expected to be announced Wednesday evening.