Bibi’s Back? Exit Polls Put Netanyahu in Driver’s Seat To Form Next Coalition
Exit polls from all three major Israeli television stations suggested Tuesday night that Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu is likely to be tapped to form the next government, projecting that his right-wing-religious bloc will win 61 or 62 seats. Blocs need at least 61 out of the 120 Knesset seats available to be able to put together a majority government.
This is Israel’s fifth election since April 2019, an indication of the difficulty party leaders have had in cobbling together a viable government in a divided political landscape.
Voter numbers were extremely high throughout the day, with the highest turnout reported since 1999. By 8 pm, two hours before the polls closed, turnout was reported at 66.3%, more than 5% higher than the turnout at the same during the previous election in March 2021.
Exit polls by national broadcaster Kan and Channel 13 both projected 62 seats in total for Netanyahu’s camp, while Channel 12 predicted 61 seats.
Kan and Channel 13 exit polls projected 54 seats for Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s centrist bloc while Channel 12 showed it winning 55 seats.
Regarding seats for the individual parties, Kan gave Likud 30 seats and Yesh Atid 22 seats; Channel 12 gave Likud 30 and Yesh Atid 24; and Channel 13 gave Likud 31 and Yesh Atid 24.
One of the biggest victors of the night proved to be the far-right Religious Zionism party, which is projected to have won 14 to 15 seats, potentially making it the third-largest party in the Knesset and in a position to demand key ministerial appointments for its lawmakers.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity alliance with ex-Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope seemed on course to be the fourth-largest party, with a projected 11 to 13 seats.
Despite their fears, left-wing parties Meretz and the once-dominant Labor seemed to have both made it past the 3.25% threshold to enter the Knesset with predictions of four to six seats apiece.
The two parties issued frantic calls for voters to return to them and not cast a ballot for Lapid’s more centrist Yesh Atid to their detriment, arguing that they were all part of the same bloc and needed each vote to remain in parliament. Those calls seemed to have paid off.