Kadima wins elections, but will it form the next government? Kadima and its Chairwoman, Tzipi Livni, are the big winners of the 2009 general elections, according to a Rafi Smith poll commissioned by Ynet, with Likud finishing a disappointing 2nd.
However, it appears that the rightist bloc won more Knesset seats than the leftist camp, suggesting that the mission of forming Israel's next government will be particularly challenging.
Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu delivered at crunch time to become Israel's third-largest party, while Ehud Barak's Labor party sustained a harsh blow. Exit polls by Israel's major television channels showed similar results
According to the Rafi Smith poll, Kadima won 28 Knesset seats, Likud came in second with 26 mandates, Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu won 16 seats, and Labor won 14 mandates. The rightist bloc won a total of 65 seats according to the poll.
Below are the complete results of the Smith-Ynet poll:
- Kadima 28
- Likud 26
- Yisrael Beiteinu 16
- Labor 14
- Shas 10
- United Torah Judaism 6
- Hadash 5
- Jewish Home 4
- United Arab List – Ta'al 4
- Meretz 4
- National Union 3
According to Channel 1, Kadima won 30 Knesset seats, Likud won 28 mandates, Yisrael Beiteinu won 14 seats, and Labor ended up with 13 mandates. Channel 2's exit poll predicted that Kadima won 29 Knesset seats, Likud came in second with 27 mandates, Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu won 15 seats, and Labor won 13 mandates. According to Channel 10, Kadima won 30 Knesset seats, Likud won 28 mandates, Yisrael Beiteinu won 15 seats, and Labor won mandates.
The turnout rate, which reached nearly 60% by 8 pm, exceeded that of the 2006 elections, dispelled fears that the inclement weather would keep potential voters indoors. The final turnout rate was 65.2%, compared to 63.2 in 2006.
Earlier Tuesday Judge Eliezer Rivlin, chairman of the Central Elections Committee, said that "the elections are being held as planned and this is celebration of democracy."
Political party leaders cast their vote for Israel's 18th Knesset shortly after the polling stations opened all across the country at 7 am.
Allegations of voting irregularities surfaced just hours after the polling stations opened. The Meretz party filed a complaint with the Central Elections Committee claiming the party's ballots at a Jerusalem polling station were tampered with.
Livni called on Israel's citizens to carry out their civic duty, saying "rain or shine, you stand behind the curtain at the polling station, close your eyes and imagine – not out of fear or desperation – how you would like to feel once the election results are announced."