While there was no clear-cut governing majority, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is on track to win the most seats in Israel’s fourth election in two years, exit polls showed Tuesday.
Initial projections from Israel’s three main broadcasters gave Likud between 31 and 33 seats in the Knesset, far outpacing nearest rival Yesh Atid, a centrist party projected to take between 16 and 18 seats.
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Likud’s tally, along with the support earned by its right-wing religious allies, gives the pro-Netanyahu bloc an estimated 53 or 54 seats, according to the initial projections which are subject to change.
But 61 seats are required for a majority in the country’s 120-member parliament, the Knesset.
The parties opposed to Netanyahu were projected to win 59 seats.
The surveys indicate Netanyahu could secure a right-wing majority coalition with support from his former protege and defence minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the religious-nationalist Yamina party.
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Yamina took a projected seven or eight seats, indicating he is set to play the role of kingmaker, as polls predicted.
Bennett hammered Netanyahu during the campaign but has not ruled out joining his government.
Turnout two hours before polls closed was 60.9%, down by nearly five percentage points from the previous election last year.