03/24/2021, 09.31
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Israel, elections: Netanyahu wins but not by a majority

Likud is expected to win 31 seats but fails to gain the quota of 61, required for a Knesset majority. Abstention weighs heavily at 67.2%, down 5% compared to last March. Yair Lapid, with the centrist party Yesh Atid, is expected to win between 16 and 18 seats.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party have beaten opponents in Israel’s elections but failed to secure a sufficient number of seats, in terms of coalition, to form a government.

Initial (partial) results report a halved victory for "Bibi" in the fourth political elections in less than two years, marked by a series of rockets launched from Gaza in the south of the country and the response of Israeli fighters with targeted bombings in the Strip.

With over 60% of the ballots scrutinized, the Likud is on the way to confirm itself as the leading party but the birth of the executive is hindered by Netanyahu's rivals and the right-wing blockade that opposes the hegemony of the Prime Minister, in power for over a decade.

The nationalist Yemina party of Naftali Bennett, which maintains an intermediate position between the blocs, is a possible tip of the balance.

The only certain figure refers to abstention, with the lowest turnout ever recorded since the 2009 elections with 67.2% of those eligible and 5% less than last March. The Electoral Commission reports that the final results should arrive in the late afternoon today, with counting procedures that are slow also due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The abstentions are linked, in part, to the new coronavirus that may have prompted several people to desert the polling booths, although Israel is the nation in which - thanks to the vaccination policy - immunization is very high in relation to the population.

At the same time, there is an evident disaffection of the electorate towards a political class which, in two years and through four votes, has so far failed to guarantee a stable majority for the country in the eternal conflict between "Bibi" and its rivals.

The probable coalition in support of the outgoing premier according to Haaretz would currently have 56 seats out of the total of 120 in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Bennett would have seven seats, essential for Likud (31) to reach the fateful threshold of 61 seats needed to govern. At the closing of the polls Netanyahu announced "a gigantic victory for the right and for Likud", underlining that "a clear majority of the citizens of Israel are right-wingers and want a right-wing government. And this is what we will do”.

In reality, the Prime Minister, despite winning at the party level (which would remain the first in the country) has not made it through at the coalition level. The main opponent Yair Lapid, with the centrist party Yesh Atid, is expected to win between 16 and 18 seats.

In terms of abstention, the disaffection of the Arab-Israeli electorate would have weighed, with 10% fewer voters; nevertheless, Ra'am (United Arab List) would have obtained over 154 thousand votes, well over the 144 thousand necessary (according to the threshold of 3.25%) to be able to enter Parliament.

For the games of the alliances and the steps that will lead to the birth of the government, however, the definitive figures are expected and a fifth vote is not excluded.

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