Although exit poll results are in, President Shimon Peres will only meet with Knesset factions at the beginning of next week in order to determine which party head will lead the formation of a new government coalition.
The full count of votes – including those of foreign representatives and soldiers – is expected to be completed no earlier than Thursday afternoon. As such, Peres announced that discussions as to who should lead coalition-building would only begin next week.
According to Israeli law, the creation of a coalition government is granted to the head of the faction who has the greatest chance of forming a coalition – in other words, the one with the greatest chance of securing positive support from other factions.
Given this fact, it is unclear from exit polls which party leader should be given this task. While Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni appears to have won the elections (securing 28 to 30 mandates, according to various polls,) Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu lags behind by only two mandates.
More importantly, the exit polls show that right-wing parties will secure over 61 mandates –
thus easily allowing for the potential creation of a right-wing coalition.
Moreover, Livni has a troubled history with coalition construction. In October, after winning the Kadima primaries held pursuant to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's resignation, Livni tried and failed to set up a coalition government, leading to the call for early elections.