Exit polls conducted after Israel’s election on Tuesday indicated an extremely close race in the country’s fourth election in two years.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party is projected to win between 30 and 33 seats, Axios reported. Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, consists of 120 seats, so parties must form coalitions in order to govern. If Netanyahu and the Likud Party win the most seats, they will have the first chance to form a coalition.
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— Israel in Canada (@IsraelinCanada) March 23, 2021
“This is a festival of democracy. This is a happy country. Israel is a country where people are smiling,” Netanyahu told reporters as he voted.
Israel has had four elections in the past two years, the first three pitting Netanyahu’s coalition against the Blue and White centrist coalition, led by former Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Netanyahu and Gantz joined together to form a government after the March 2020 election, but the coalition collapsed in December 2020 after the Knesset was unable to agree on a budget. (RELATED: Both Prime Minister Contenders Claim Victory In Israeli General Election)
The second-most popular party in this election, the centrist Yesh Atid led by Yair Lapid, is projected to win between 16 and 18 seats. Lapid’s coalition is projected to hold 59 seats compared to Netanyahu’s 61, according to Axios.
Channel 12 exit poll
Yesh Atid 18
Joint List 9
Blue and White 7
Religious Zionism 7
Yisrael Beytenu 6
New Hope 6
— Lahav Harkov (@LahavHarkov) March 23, 2021
Netanyahu vowed to form a coalition on March 13, despite previous polling from the Jerusalem Post that suggested forming a coalition would prove extremely difficult. Netanyahu was engulfed in a 2019 corruption scandal but pled not guilty to fraud and bribery charges on Feb. 8. He remains the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history.