Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emerged winner of Israel’s election, with his hawkish bloc unexpectedly losing ground to resurgent centre-left challengers, exit polls show.
Otago Daily News reported that the Israeli leader’s Likud party, yoked with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu group, and would still be the biggest bloc in the 120-member assembly with 31 seats, 11 fewer than the 42 they held in the previous parliament.
If the exit polls compiled by three Israeli television channels prove correct, Netanyahu would be on course to secure a third term in office, perhaps leading a hardline coalition that would promote Jewish settlement on occupied land.
But his weakened showing in an election he himself called earlier than necessary could complicate the struggle to forge an alliance with a stable majority in parliament.
“According to the exit poll results, it is clear that Israel’s citizens have decided that they want me to continue in the job of prime minister of Israel and to form as broad a government as possible,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page.