In the early parliamentary elections in Israel, the conservative head of government Benjamin Netanyahu and his challenger Benny Gantz are almost equal. According to TV projections, Netanyahu's right-leaning Likud party has 31 to 33 seats. Gantz's opposition center blue-white coalition would receive 32 to 34 seats.
It seems that there will be no clear winner after the election. The formation of a government will probably not be easy. For a government majority at least 61 out of 120 mandates in parliament are necessary. But according to current predictions, a right-wing conservative coalition of Netanyahu's Likud party, the Jamina party of ex-Justice Minister Ajelet Schaked, and the most religious parties would have a maximum of 54 to 57 seats. But even the opposition camp from Gantz 'center-alliance blue-white, the Labor Party, the Democratic Union and the Arab parties would not reach a majority in parliament with a total of 54 to 58 seats.
Grand Coalition between Likud and Blue-White possible, but not easy
Mathematically possible is a grand coalition of Likud and blue-white. However, Netanyahu emphasized during the election campaign that he wanted a right-wing religious coalition. By contrast, Gantz is only ready for a grand coalition without Netanyahu as head of government. The opposition leader justified this with the allegations of corruption against the 69-year-old Prime Minister, who governed the country since 2009. Following a hearing in October, Netanyahu faces charges in three corruption cases. With the support of a right-wing religious coalition, he could have tried to secure parliamentary immunity from prosecution. At the polling station in Tel Aviv, Gantz said, "Today we vote for change, we will bring hope, all together, without corruption and without extremism."
Netanyahu, on the other hand, had warned against a brief exit for his Likud party in Jerusalem. He wrote on Twitter of a high turnout in the "Strongholds of the Left". Likud supporters would have to vote immediately, "or we'll get a left-wing government with the Arab parties." Netanyahu had also mobilized his electorate with anti-Arab sentiment in recent elections.
The Israelis are voting for their second time this year. At the first election in April, the right-wing religious camp, which includes Netanyahu's Likud party, won the majority with 65 seats; however, the alliance broke down in a dispute between the former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the strict religious coalition partners, no alliance has come about. As a result, the majority of the parliament voted in favor of its dissolution and a renewed early election in May. Lieberman's ultra-right party Israel Beitenu (Our House Israel) is expected to hold eight to ten seats in the new election.
Voter turnout has risen
President Reuven Rivlin has two weeks to decide who to commission. He calls for recommendations from all parliamentary groups for the office of Prime Minister. Who then has the greatest opportunities for the formation of a government coalition, initially receives four weeks time. Usually the order receives the chairman of the group with the most votes. A new government is expected at the end of October at the earliest. President Rivlin said on the day of the election that he wanted to do everything in his power to prevent another election.
The turnout was higher than half a year ago and was until 19 clock German time, according to the Central Election Committee at 63.7 percent. This is 2.4 percentage points more than the election in April at the same time. Overall, the turnout last year was around 68 percent. Around 6.4 million voters were called to appoint the 120 members of the 22nd Knesset in Jerusalem. First results may not be available until Wednesday morning. The final result comes about a week after the election.