Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to be on his way to a landslide victory in Israel’s fifth election less than four years after the first exit polls, which all three of the country’s main television channels suggested early Wednesday.
His Likud party and its natural allies are predicted to win 65 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, with 80% of the vote counted as of Wednesday morning.
A coalition of Netanyahu’s Likud, the Jewish National Religious Zionist/Jewish Power group, Shas and United Torah Judaism, would on paper be the most authentic government in Israel’s history.
Incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid and his allies appear to be on track to win 50 seats. An Arab coalition called Hadash-Tal is predicted to win five seats, and is unlikely to support either Netanyahu or Lapid to lead the country.
Voter turnout was 71.3 percent, according to the Central Election Committee. That’s the highest since 2015, according to the committee — more than any of the previous four elections from 2019 to 2021, which have resulted in inconsistencies or short-lived governments.
From the first exit polls on Tuesday night, Meretz, a left-wing party, appears to have fallen below the 3.25% threshold to win any seats in the Knesset. The final result could change if the party manages to win enough national votes to get a seat in parliament.
These are not final results; Nationally, one in five votes remain to be counted. Final results may come as early as Wednesday, but may take up to Thursday to arrive.
Netanyahu’s return to the leadership of the government represents fundamental changes for Israeli society. It includes the newly ascendant Jewish Nationalist Religious Zionism/Jewish Power alliance, whose leaders include Itamar Ben Givir, who was once accused of inciting racism and supporting terrorism.
And Netanyahu’s allies have negotiated changes to the justice system. That could end Netanyahu’s not guilty plea to corruption charges.
Netanyahu himself was one of the issues not only in Tuesday’s election but in the four previous ones that have divided voters — and politicians — into camps over whether or not they want the man known internationally as Bibi.
One of the problems in building a stable government in the last four elections is that even some political parties who agree with Netanyahu on the issue are not willing to work with him either personally or politically.
Getting the official results will take some time – they may be ready as early as Wednesday, but it could be Thursday before the final makeup of Israel’s 25th Knesset becomes clear.
This is because parties must win at least 3.25% of the total vote to win any seats in the Knesset.
To determine how many seats each party will get, election officials must first determine which parties have passed the platform. Then you can figure out how many votes are needed to win a Knesset seat and give seats to parties based on the number of votes they get.