Netanyahu wins election, but hard right takes an unexpected knock
But the narrow victory and gains by the centrist Yesh Atid party will make it more difficult for Netanyahu to freely choose his coalition partners.
The early results showed Likud and the hardline Yisrael Beitenu lost up to ten seats in the Knesset, down from 42.
Yesh Atid, which was only established nine months ago and campaigned on economic issues, did surprisingly well, coming second place with 18-19, followed by Labour with 16-17 seats, and the ultra-right Jewish Home party trailing with just 12.
Netanyahu promised in a victory speech he would form the “broadest possible coalition”. While many polls and pundits prior to the election predicted a Netanyahu win, it was thought he would preside over a centre-right government. But today’s indicators suggest a more left-leaning coalition.
But Netanyahu stuck to his guns in his victory speech, saying the country’s top priority was to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.
The official results of the poll are not due out until next week. Turnout was estimated at 66.6 percent.
Analysts predict Netanyahu could form a coalition as early as Thursday morning.