As no party in the 67 year history of Israel has mustered an outright majority in the Knesset, no one expected a clear winner out of the present election held on Tuesday. Also, with 99% votes having been counted, and the current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu led Likud Party winning 29 seats, 5 more than the main rival Issac Herzog led Zionist Union, in the Knesset; the indications seem to be loud and clear. Netanyahu is claiming to be back, and he celebrates his anticipated victory with a kiss to his wife, Sara, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv.
It is baffling to see Netanyahu celebrate winning just 29 seats in a 120-seat Knesset. However, due to the system of proportional representation, there is a very little chance of a single party gaining absolute majority in the House, and the opinion polls and early results of the present election seem to point the similar trend. There is a possibility of Netanyahu forming a coalition government when the election results come out. As per a report, he was quick to call Naftali Bennett, The Jewish Home leader and minister of economy who may be winning, as per the early trends, around eight seats. The Netanyahu’s coalition may have Yisrael Beiteinu, the leader and foreign minister. His tough posture against Iran and Palestine seems to have augured well for him. He promised not to accord statehood to Palestine just on the eve of the elections, and it may have brought him closer to the Right-wing parties that are likely to support him in the government formation.
On the other hand, Herzog has termed Netanyahu’s celebrations “premature”, and he seems to have a point. It is a fact that in the backdrop of close margin, it is difficult to predict with certainty till every single vote is counted. Also, in the light of the electoral system adopted by Israel, a party has to cross the election threshold of 3.25% of the votes polled to win seats in the House. It implies that smaller parties will hold the key for government formation, and both the Likud Party and the Zionist Union Party would have to try hard to win their support. Such small parties as the Meretz and Yahad, on their crossing 3.25%, can tilt the balance in favor of Netanyahu or Herzog. Another party which may play an important role may be the Moshe Kahion-led Kulanu Party which is expected to win, as per the pollsters, 9 to 10 seats, and may be the deciding factor.