On March 17, Israelis voted to elect their representatives for the 20th Knesset (parliament). The proud demonstration of Israel’s open and vibrant democracy over the more than 67 years since its founding stands in stark contrast to every other country in the Middle East.
With all the votes counted, the Likud party – headed by PM Netanyahu - won 30 seats, compared with the Zionist Union – headed by Isaac Herzog – which won 24 seats.
Polls leading up to the election suggested that Zionist Union would emerge with the most seats. Official election results are expected on March 19, at which point Israeli President Rivlin will almost certainly recommend that Netanyahu form the next government.
- Final results from March 19:
- Likud (Benjamin Netanyahu) – 30
- Zionist Union (Isaac Herzog) – 24
- Joint Arab List (Ayman Uda) – 13
- Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid) – 11
- Kulanu (Moshe Kahlon) – 10
- Jewish Home (Naftali Bennett) – 8
- Shas (Aryeh Deri) – 7
- United Torah Judaism (Ya’akov Litzman) – 6
- Yisrael Beiteinu (Avigdor Lieberman) – 6
- Meretz (Zehava Gal-on) – 5
- The most likely scenario is that PM Netanyahu and Likud will attempt to form a mostly right-wing nationalist coalition government, possibly with the religious parties. Potential coalition partners include:
- Kulanu (center-right, focused on economic issues)
- Jewish Home (nationalist, focused on settlements and economic inequality)
- Shas (Sephardic ultra-Orthodox, focused on socio-economic issues)
- United Torah Judaism (Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox, focused on housing shortage)
- Yisrael Beiteinu (nationalist, supported by immigrants from the former Soviet Union)
- The voter turnout was over 72 percent, the highest since the 1999 election, and over five percent higher than the 2013 election.