January 23, 2013 Lapid the Big Winner of the Election, Israel Does Not Move Rightward Marc Schulman

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Israel Update
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

January 23, 2013 Lapid the Big Winner of the Election, Israel Does Not Move

The election results are in- well sort of. As of now, all we have are the exit polls and the semi-final numbers. The final results will not be known until tomorrow. The turnout was extremely strong. The turnout was good, but mostly the great weather brought people out early. By this evening rumors were spreading that it would be a very close race.

As to the results: I am writing this account at 12:00 AM (120 minutes after the polls closed). The current exit polls show between 62 to 58 mandates for the bloc of the right together with the Charedim vs. the Left bloc, together with the Arabs parties garnering 61 to 59 mandates. These results may change by morning. In the coming days there will time for in-depth analysis of the vote, once the numbers are final.

A few quick thoughts– First, despite all the talk, the right has not become stronger- as people were generally expecting. While the right bloc did move further to the right, the right bloc actually lost support overall. 

The biggest winner tonight was Yair Lapid. I did not support him for a very simple reason-After listening to him for a year, it is still not at all clear to me what his core beliefs really are. 

The loser tonight (even though he is most likely to continue serving as Prime Minister) is Benjamin Netanyahu. The Likud, after merging with the party of Lieberman, will end up with only 30 seats. That means that the Prime Minister received support from only ¼ of the voters. If you keep in mind that Likud’s part of the list is only 20 it means that if Netanyahu forms the next government he will only have 20 members of his own party in the government. 

Of course the biggest question remains, after the final numbers are known - What sort of coalition can be put together? It's not at all clear that it can be done. Reuven Rivlin, the outgoing Knesset Speaker, even brought up the possibility of new elections in three months.

Stay tuned for interesting political times!

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