Exit polls suggest Kadima victory in Israeli elections

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ehud Olmert

Early exit polls for the Israeli parliamentary elections suggest that the newly formed Kadima party of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Acting PM Ehud Olmert managed to capture between 28 and 32 seats in the 17th Knesset with Labor coming in second with 20 to 22 seats ahead of Yisrael Beiteinu with 12 to 14 seats. Likud got 11 or 12 seats, the National Religious Party took 8 or 9 seats and Shas 10 or 11 seats. The Pensioners party performed better than expected, capturing 6 to 8 seats, United Torah Judaism got 5 to 6 seats and Meretz around 5 seats. Arab parties are expected to get 7 or 8 seats.

The results mean that Olmert could probably form a center-left coaltion to implement his unilateral disengagement plan for the West Bank.

"Kadima has won today. The next prime minister is Ehud Olmert," said Roni Bar-On, a Member of the Knesset for Kadima. His party did worse than expected from opinion polls, which saw them at gaining about 40 seats.

"This a crisis unlike any that has ever hit Likud," said Dan Naveh, a senior MK of the party referring to Likud's fall from being one of the dominating Israeli parties in the last decades to finishing only 4th.

Correspondents for the BBC stress that Israeli exit polls are considered to be relatively unreliable, and that it may take some time to get definitive results.


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