Israeli election: Center-left parties gain majority
Exit polls released at 10 P.M. Tuesday showed center-left parties gaining a total of between 62 and 66 seats (out of 120), with Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima party gaining from 29 to 32 seats, and Labor from 20-22, and Meretz five.
The Likud, which had hoped to block a such a coalition, won 10 to 12 seats in the poll, far below the figures the party had hoped. The Russian immigrant-dominated Yisrael Beiteinu party, which is led by the far right activist Avigdor Liberman, gained 12-14 seats in the exit polls.
In the largest surprise of the vote, the Pensioners party was seen to win six to eight seats.
The Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Shas won 10-11 seats in the polls.
Kadima party and the Labor feared a low voter turnout. According to a survey ahead of the polls, one-third of the country's 5 million eligible voters did not plan to cast a ballot. By 8 P.M., voter turnout was low as election officials said only 57 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots.
Polling stations opened at 7 A.M. Tuesday morning. The 8,280 polling stations were closed at 10 P.M..
Israeli police were on high alert, with thousands of policemen and troops deployed throughout the country. According to Haaretz, the crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip have been closed and there was a tightened closure on the West Bank. Israeli military intelligence has claimed it had received information that Islamic Jihad and Fatah will try to launch attacks against Israeli targets.
© 2006 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)