The party hoping to supplant the Likud and send Netanyahu into retirement appears to be in trouble, according to early numbers.
By David Isaac, World Israel News
Blue and White election headquarters has gone from surprise to fear to panic, Israel’s Channel 11 reports, as data from Israel’s election streams in showing high turnout in general and in particular in Likud strongholds.
Channel 13 also hinted at surprises in exit polls. “We’re seeing things we hadn’t thought about,” said station pollster Camil Fuchs.
Channel 11’s pundits were already trying to explain what they anticipate to be a strong showing for the incumbent party led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
They point to the Trump peace plan, to Fifth Dimension (a failed company led by Gantz now under investigation) and to a poorly run campaign by Blue and White in comparison to Likud’s energetic campaign.
The latest figures from Israel’s Central Elections Committee puts voter turnout at 56.3 percent – 3 percent higher than the last elections at the same point in time. It’s the highest turnout since 1999.
Voter turnout was especially high in a surprising place – at special election stations set up for quarantined individuals at risk for the coronavirus – available for approximately 6,000 people.
Turnout was so high that the Health Ministry extended voting hours at the special booths for two additional hours – until 7:00 p.m. Turnout at the quarantine booths reached 67 percent.
Leading up to Monday’s elections, most pundits opined that a fourth round of elections was likely given the poll numbers, which showed neither Left nor Right reaching the magic number of 61 Knesset seats necessary to form a government in the 120-seat Knesset.
However, a dramatic change now appears possible given the high turnout in Likud party strongholds.
Reports say that unlike Blue and White, the feeling within Likud is one of satisfaction.
A total of 6,453,255 Israeli citizens were eligible to vote at 10,651 ballot stations across the country. Polls close at 10:00 p.m. Israel time.