Likud-Beiteinu win with 31 mandates; Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party comes in 2nd with 18-19 Knesset seats; record number of voters surged to polling stations to make mark on 19th Knesset
Exit polls marking the conclusion of the 2013 national elections are predicting re-election for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but the big surprise was Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, which, according to the polls, won 18-19 mandates.
Israel’s news networks projected the joint Likud-Yisrael Beteinu to have won 31 Knesset seats – a sharp drop from the 42 mandates that two parties currently hold.
The winner of the day was Yesh Atid, whose projected number of mandates was almost double what the final pre-election polls predicted.
Shelly Yachimovich, who in recent weeks voiced hopes of becoming Israel’s next prime minister, failed to have garnered enough mandates to become the country’s second largest party, garnering 17 Knesset seats, the polls indicated.
Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi was said to have won 12 Knesset seats.
The results were expected to make it tough for Netanyahu to form a coalition, considering that the race between the Right and Left blocs was tighter that initially expected. The polls showed the the rightist bloc won a combined 61 Knesset seats, while the leftist bloc won 59 mandates.
Meretz appeared to have doubled its power by winning seven mandates, according to channels 1 and 2. Channel 10 saw the party receiving only six Knesset seats. This is the biggest win for the party, which is headed by Zahava Gal-On, since 1999.
Final results were not expected to be announced until the early hours of Wednesday. Polling stations closed at 10 pm.
Polling stations across Israel opened at 7 am on Tuesday, beckoning a total of 5,656,705 eligible voters to cast ballots in 10,132 ballot boxes across the country.
While the winner appeared to be pretty much decided, international media outlets on Tuesday pondered the implications of another Netanyahu administration for the diplomatic process.
A Washington Post editorial claimed Netanyahu is one of only two Likud members who support the establishment of a Palestinian state, out of the top 30 candidates on the Likud list.
The question, it said, was whether Netanyahu would include Center-Left parties in the coalition, or risk isolation both within his party and internationally.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4335746,00.html