(September 17, 2019 / JNS) The year was 2009 and the Likud supporters gathered at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds convention center heaved a collective gasp when the polls showed the Kadima Party had beat Likud by one mandate. This was it, they thought then.
Fast-forward a decade later to 2019. Likud supporters who gathered at the same venue didn’t even blink an eye when exit polls showed the Blue and White Party beating Likud by one or two mandates.
Likud Knesset member Yoav Kisch told reporters, including JNS, “Let’s wait for the final results. We have been in this scenario four months ago, and we have seen the whole house picture change.”
Asked if there is a possibility that the country will go to a third round of elections this year, Kisch said, “there is definitely a possibility of going to another election, but we hope it will not get to there, and we hope [Benjamin] Netanyahu will be the next prime minister.”
Initial exit polls show both Likud and Blue and White on top as the two largest parties as expected. Israel’s Channel 12 and Channel 13 had Blue and White in the lead with 34 and 33 seats, respectively, to Likud’s 33 and 31, while Kan had the parties tied at 32. However, neither party seems to have a clear path to a 61-seat Knesset majority without a coalition with Yisrael Beiteinu, which the exit polls show around eight to 10 seats.
Experience has taught the Likud not to fret too much over dismal exit polls as the reality often turns out way different. The reason for this is because for the past 10 years, the Likud has consistently beat the odds and emerged as the governing party with Netanyahu at the helm.
Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev told reporters that it’s important to wait until clearer results are published. She also referenced 2009, pointing to that election as an example of how the political picture can change drastically.
“We will wait for the final results,” she said. “There are plenty of ballots that still have yet to be counted.”
Yuli Edelstein, who sits number 2 on the Likud list behind Netanyahu, also dismissed calls to replace Netanyahu as leader of the party.
“Likud is a united party and will continue to be so. Likud is the only democratic party in the political system, headed by an elected leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Edelstein told reporters.
“I urge other party leaders not to try to determine who will be our leader — any such attempt will not succeed. Unity is the secret of the Likud’s power over the years and it will continue to be so in every situation.”
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