(September 17, 2019 / JNS) Initial exit polls for Israel’s second general elections this year have Likud, and Blue and White, as the two largest parties expected to enter the next Knesset, though neither party appears to have a clear path to a majority coalition.
With polls officially closed 10 p.m. Israel time, Israel’s Channel 13 exit poll has Blue and White ahead at 32 seats, with Likud a close second at 30. Other parties follow: the Arab Joint List,15; Shas, 9; Yisrael Beiteinu, 8; United Torah Judaism, 8; Yamina, 6; Democratic Camp, 6; and Labor-Gesher, 6.
Similarly, Israel’s Channel 12 has Blue and White on top at 34, with Likud at 33. They are followed by the Arab Joint List, 11; Shas, 8; Yisrael Beiteinu, 8; United Torah Judaism, 8; Yamina, 8; Democratic Camp, 5; and Labor-Gesher, 5.
Israel’s Kan has Blue and White at 32 and Likud at 31, followed by Arab Joint List, 13; Yisrael Beiteinu; 9, Shas, 9; United Torah Judaism, 8; Yamina, 7; Democratic Camp, 5; and Labor-Gesher, 6.
Overall, the biggest theme of the exit polls is that neither the right-wing/religious bloc nor the center-left bloc have enough seats to form a governing coalition at 61 without the support of former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu.
Lieberman, who refused to join a Likud-led government following the April 9 election, could be the potential kingmaker for this latest election with a stronger showing than in April. He has called for a unity government to be formed between Likud, Blue and White, and his secular-nationalist party.
Additionally, most exit polls have the far-right party Otzma Yehudit not passing the 3.25 percent threshold to enter the Knesset. The far-right party had been seen a potential coalition ally for Netanyahu; however, there was also concern, especially from the American Jewish community, that the party’s extreme views could be a potential hazard for a Netanyahu-led government.
Also, most exit polls also have the Arab Joint List as the third largest party in the Knesset. This result is a strong turnaround for the Joint Arab List, which is a political alliance of several Arab parties: Balad, Hadash, Ta’al and the United Arab List.
In the previous election, the list ran as two separate parties—Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad with six and four seats, respectively. No Arab party has ever joined a governing coalition, though party leader Ayman Odeh has suggested that he could recommend Gantz as prime minister or even possibly join a center-left coalition. During the campaign, Blue and White ruled out sitting with the Arab parties, which includes members that are opposed the Jewish state.
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