With voting over at Israel, all major election polls predicted a surprise victory for center party Kadima and its candidate for Israel's top job, current Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni.
Israel's conservative party Likud, which has for the past weeks been predicted to be the winner of the election, apparently lost its chance because at the last minute many of its voters turned to an extreme right wing political party, Israel Beiteinu, which may have taken as much as a third of the Likud's voters away from it.
The sudden rise of Israel Beiteinu over the past weeks was marked by a political platform that was openly hostile to Israel's Arab minority, especially targeting Arab parties and politicians that participate in the Israeli political system as enemies of the state. Some local observers believed that this might help to change the voting pattern of the Arab public in Israel, which has shown disinterest and fragmentation in recent years. Exit polls did not provide a clear indication of change in Arab voting patterns in Israel.
According to Israel's Central Elections Committee, 65.2% of the country's 5.2 million voters participated in these elections, marking the second-lowest turnout rate in Israeli history.