Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud party swept to victory in Israel's general election on Tuesday, paving the way for him to form a coalition government. But he could face weeks of political wrangling to put together a stable coalition in a fragmented parliament.
Television polls after voting ended showed Likud winning 32 to 36 seats in the 120-seat Knesset and the center-left Labor 17 to 19 seats, a sharp drop for this party.
The centrist secular party Shinui (Change), led by former journalist, Tommy Lapid, made a big surge into third place, with a projected 14 to 17 seats.
President Moshe Katzav is now expected to ask Sharon, as the leader of the biggest party in parliament, to form a new government to tackle a deep economic crisis and the 28-month-old Palestinian uprising for an independent state.
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )