Israel’s elections are over, and the counting of ballots has begun. The early exit polls show a very narrow gap between the Likud Party and the Kadima Party, with Kadima surprisingly taking a narrow lead in each of the results.
Channel 1 and Channel 10 both give Kadima 30 seats… with Likud at 28. Channel 2 says 29 for Kadima and 27 for Likud. All the early results point to Yisrael Beiteinu, which had surged to as many as 20-21 seats in pre-election polls, netting only around 14-15. Channel 2 suggests Labor will get 13.
Though these are only preliminary results, the speculation has already begun on which party will be selected by Israeli President Shimon Peres to form the next coalition. Even if Kadima gets the largest number of seats, it is possible that the Likud Party may have an easier time forming a coalition with the relative strength of the right-wing bloc.
A ruling coalition would require a minimum of 60 seats in the Knesset, and the spread from these polls suggests both sides have their work cut out for them (barring the possibility of a unity government). The smaller parties, which will have 35 or so seats, will have considerable influence on the forming of coalition. One or two seats here or there for some minor party could make all the difference in who gets to govern, and who is relegated to the opposition.