Initial Results: Election looks Inconclusive

After counting 92 percent of the votes cast in Tuesday’s election, the results are not conclusive for the formation of a new coalition government in Israel.

In a slight change compared to the result in April, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party seems to have edged ahead of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party in terms of total votes, but both parties are currently heading for 32 seats in the Knesset. That places the Likud Party down 3 seats from the April election.

It leaves both of the two main parties short of a 61-seat majority when combined with their obvious coalition partners.

The Joint List of Arab parties seems to have achieved its best result yet, emerging as the third-largest group with 12 seats.

A meeting of right-wing leaders todayA meeting of right-wing leaders today (photo from Likud).

Negotiations about potential coalitions have started straight away, with the right-wing parties seeking to form a 55-seat group that they hope will be the largest.

However, as so often in politics, their situation seems to be complicated by the dissolution of the Yamina group into three separate parties which might choose to go different ways in negotiations.

The Yisrael Beytenu Party looks to be heading for 9 seats, which places Avigdor Liberman in the role of potential ‘kingmaker’, with the final outcome dependent upon whom he supports. He has spoken strongly of a desire to form a unity government that includes both of the two main parties, Likud and Blue and White – something that does not appeal to either!

Many Israelis are relieved that the controversial far-right Otzma Yehudi Party did not receive enough votes to win any seats in the Knesset. Their racist statements have caused much concern.

And most commentators seem to think that these initial results indicate this will be the end of Benjamin Netanyahu’s time as Israel’s Prime Minister.

UPDATE 19th September

As more votes have been counted, the Blue and White Party has moved into a 2-seat lead over the Likud Party (33 to 31), prompting Benjamin Netanyahu to call on Benny Gantz to form a broad national unity government with him.

Benny Gantz has dismissed that call and insisted that he himself should be Prime Minister in the next coalition, which should be committed to liberal policies on religious issues. He said:

“I intend to form a broad unity government headed by me, which would reflect the people’s choice
and our basic promises to the public and our priorities.”