Israelis went to the polls on Tuesday, November 1st, for the country’s fifth legislative elections in three and a half years.
Though the final, official count will not be available until later in the week, exit polls give a narrow lead to former prime minister and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who is estimated to have likely won 61 seats of the parliament’s 120 seats between his own party and other parties on the Right, particularly the Religious Zionist Party, which has won an estimated 14 seats, significantly increasing its presence in the Israeli parliament.
The wild card is the Arab party, according to the Jerusalem Post, which could wrest a seat from Netanyahu. Exit polls are often inaccurate by a seat or two compared to the final, counted voting results.
On the Left, the bloc of Yair Lapid, the current centrist caretaker prime minister, has won approximately 55 seats.
However, the final count looks as though coalition politics with all their instability will remain the order of the day in Israel.
Politics in Israel have been unstable since 2019 when Netanyahu, long-time prime minister, lost his majority, leading to a shaky coalition and unstable governments.
Lapid, who had formerly served as finance minister for Netanyahu, ousted Netanyahu’s coalition government in the last elections, barely a year ago, with his own eight-party coalition, which won by merely one seat in the parliament, the same margin Netanyahu is predicted to have won in this round of voting.
The coalition then lost its narrow majority in April 2022, when Palestinian-Israeli parliament member Idit Silman quit the governing coalition. The government called snap elections in June.
For these elections, Netanyahu aligned closely with far-right leader Itamar Ben-Gvir and his Religious Zionism Party, which has seen its popularity grow in recent years, stealing votes from Netanyahu’s more centrist Likud party.
The election took place amid months of violence in the West Bank, as well as rising inflation. Security and the economy are the principal concerns of voters, but they are also hoping for a stable government.