Wednesday, April 10, 2019

With almost all votes in, Netanyahu-led right set for decisive victory

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was poised to clinch a clear electoral victory Wednesday morning, with some 95 percent of votes showing his Likud party tied with Blue and White, but the right-wing bloc with a clear lead and Netanyahu possessing a clear path to forming a governing coalition.
With more than four million votes counted as of 8 a.m., Likud had snagged 26.27% of the vote, or 35 seats in the 120-seat legislature — the party’s best result since the 2003 election (when it won 38 seats under Ariel Sharon), and its best under Netanyahu.
Meanwhile Likud’s main rival in the election, the Blue and White party led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, won 25.94% of the vote, which would also give them 35 seats.
No other party appeared to break double digits in number of seats.
With five right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties managing to get some 32 seats together, though, Netanyahu seemed set to be able to form a government similar to his current right-wing coalition, with a solid 65 seats.
On the other side of the fence, four left-wing and Arab parties combined for just 20 seats, seemingly putting them in the opposition with Blue and White, pending coalition jostling.
Coming in at a surprising third and fourth places were the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, with 6.10% (8 seats) and 5.90% (8 seats) respectively.

In a shock development, the New Right party, led by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, appeared to have failed to cross the electoral threshold of 3.25%, garnering just 3.14% of the vote.
Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin addresses supporters and journalists at what was meant to be a victory party in Ramat Gan on April 9, 2019. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)
Another surprise was Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut, which had surged in surveys in recent weeks, polling as high as 6-8 seats. In the end, the far-right pro-marijuana legalization party only drew the support of 2.53% of voters, placing them on the outside looking in.
Also failing to make it in was Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Gesher, with 1.75%.
The results were not final, with tens of thousands of ballots yet to be counted.

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