As counting gets underway in Israel’s unprecedented repeat general election, exit poll projections show the country’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and former military chief, Benny Gantz, locked in a tight race.
Just after polling stations closed across Israel, the country’s three main TV stations flashed the result of their individual exit polls — showing Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party neck and neck with Gantz’s centrist Blue and White Party.
These polls have a reputation for unreliability — both Netanyahu and Gantz claimed victory on election night five months ago, amid confusion over varying projections showing each ahead. In the end, Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government, and Gantz wasn’t given a chance.
But politicians and voters alike still take them seriously, and watch them closely.
The poll for Kan Channel 11, Israel’s public broadcast network, projects Likud winning 32 seats and his main challenger, former army boss Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party winning 32 seats.
Israeli Channel 12’s projection shows Likud taking 33 seats and Blue and White with 34, while Channel 13 forecasts 31 seats for Netanyahu’s party and 33 seats for his main challenger.
These elections are being contested by 29 parties. It is expected that either nine or 10 should make it over the 3.25% threshold, and win representation in the 120-seat Parliament.
Several smaller parties are fighting to clear that threshold, and their performance could be make or break for Netanyahu or Gantz’s ability to form a coalition.