Final results show Likud with 36 seats, Netanyahu bloc short of majority with 58
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                  Final results show Likud with 36 seats, Netanyahu bloc short of majority with 58

                  Israelis cast their ballot at a voting station in Jerusalem, March 2, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

                  Final results show Likud with 36 seats, Netanyahu bloc short of majority with 58

                  06.03.2020, Israel

                  A full 68 hours after the polling stations closed and exit polls predicted a surge for Likud and its right-wing bloc, the Central Elections Committee on Thursday confirmed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party as the largest after Monday’s general election, with final results giving it 36 seats to rival Blue and White’s 33.

                  The full results, published by the committee after delays in checking a number of polling stations and ballot boxes, also confirmed, however, that the right-wing bloc of parties supporting Netanyahu had won 58 seats, three short of a majority needed to form a coalition.

                  While a total of 30 parties ran in the election — the third in a year — the final results gave seats to only eight, the lowest number to enter the Knesset in Israel’s history. Of the 4,612,297 Israelis who voted, over 56 percent voted for just two parties — Likud and Blue and White, which collectively received 2,566,272 individual ballots.

                  Total voter turnout stood at 71.32 percent of the 6,453,255 eligible voters, an increase of 1.59 points from September’s 69.83% turnout and of 2.86 points from April’s 68.46% participation rate. With the electoral threshold for entering the Knesset being 3.25% of the total vote, parties needed at least 149,004 votes to win parliamentary representation, with each of the 120 Knesset seats worth around 38,000 votes.

                  Results were only released after the Central Elections Committee finished counting the “double envelope” ballots cast by soldiers, diplomats and other absentees. They were delayed due to both difficulties counting ballot boxes from specially built polling stations for voters under house-quarantine and because of late “extra checks” of the votes in around 20 polling stations. Even when releasing the ostensibly final tallies, the election committee said they were not official, reserving the right to amend them before they are formally handed to the president next week.

                  Specifically, the election committee said that six polling stations serving some 5,500 eligible voters were still facing “in-depth checks based on the fact that, in some, there were incidents on Election Day relating to the integrity of the vote… The checking of these polling stations is ongoing.”

                  In all, the committee said that as part of its efforts to protect the integrity of the vote, it carried out extra checks of 700 of the some 10,000 polling stations. Across all polling stations, it found 877 cases of people trying to vote twice — once in their normal polling station and again in an absentee polling station — and 438 cases of people trying to vote in two separate absentee polling stations.

                  For now, with all of the votes counted, checked and rechecked, Netanyahu’s Likud party finished out front with 29.48% to win 36 seats in the Knesset, and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White gained 33 seats with 26.59% of the ballots. The results represent a three-seat increase for Likud since the April 2019 election, while Blue and White keeps the same number of MKs.

                  Likud’s 36 seats match the party’s result in the April 2019 national vote, which was its best since the 2003 election (when it won 38 seats under Ariel Sharon), and its best under Netanyahu.

                  With a total of 1,349,171 votes, Likud received 235,554 more votes that it did in September (when it received 26,253 fewer votes that in April). Blue and White, with 1,217,101 votes, gained 65,887 more than in September (when it got 25,333 more votes than in April).

                  In third place, the Joint List succeeded in increasing its 13 seats to 15, winning 577,355 votes and 12.61% of the total vote, the most in the party’s history.

                  In the April election, running as two separate parties — Ra’am-Balad and Hadash-Ta’al — the Arab Israeli factions gained a total of 10 seats with a combined 337,108 votes and 7.76% of the vote. In September, as the Joint list, that rose to 470,211 votes and 10.60% of the vote. The total increase of over 100,000 votes is largely down to increased turnout rates in Arab Israeli towns and cities: In April it was at 49%; in September is rose to 59%; in this election it again rose to 67%.

                  After the Joint List came Aryeh Deri’s ultra-Orthodox Shas party with 7.70% of the vote and nine seats, matching the number it won in September. With 5.98% of the vote, fellow ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism won seven seats, also identical to the number it received in September.

                  Also finishing with seven seats with almost the same amount of votes as UTJ, the left-wing Labor-Gesher-Meretz union dropped from the nine seats that Labor-Gesher and Meretz, running separately, collectively won in September; while Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu dropped from eight seats to seven.

                  Dropping from the seven seats it won in April to six, the right-wing Yamina party, made up of the New Right, Jewish Home and National Union factions, is now set to be the smallest party in the new Knesset.

                  The far-right Otzma Yehudit party, which ran together with Jewish Home and National Union in the April election as the Union of Right-Wing Parties, fell well short of the 3.25% electoral threshold, winning 19,334 votes — just 0.42% of Monday’s total vote. In September’s election, when the party ran on its own, it gained 83,609 votes, representing 1.88% of the vote — 64,275 more than they achieved this time around.

                  The totals give Likud and its allies — Shas, UTJ and Yamina — 58 seats combined.

                  While the centrist Blue and White, the right-wing secularist Yisrael Beytenu, the left-wing Labor-Gesher-Meretz and the predominantly Arab Joint List together have a majority in the parliament with 62 seats, they are seen as having virtually no chance of coming together to form a government.

                  Following is a complete list of seats, vote percentage and total votes received by each of the 30 parties that ran in the March 2 election for the 23rd Knesset:

                  Votes: 1,349,171
                  Vote share: 29.48%
                  Knesset seats: 36

                  Blue and White
                  Votes: 1,217,101
                  Vote share: 26.59%
                  Knesset seats: 33

                  Joint List
                  Votes: 577,355
                  Vote share: 12.61%
                  Knesset seats: 15

                  Votes: 352,443
                  Vote share: 7.70%
                  Knesset seats: 9

                  United Torah Judaism
                  Votes: 273,900
                  Vote share: 5.98% Knesset seats: 7

                  Votes: 267,362
                  Vote share: 5.84%
                  Knesset seats: 7

                  Yisrael Beytenu
                  Votes: 262,840
                  Vote share: 5.74%
                  Knesset seats: 7

                  Votes: 240,162
                  Vote share: 5.25%
                  Knesset seats: 6

                  Parties that failed to cross the 3.25% electoral threshold:

                  Otzma Yehudit: 19,334 votes, 0.42%
                  Otzma Liberalit: 3,783 votes, 0.08%
                  Kol Hanashim: 2,777 votes, 0.06%
                  Pirate Party: 1,466, 0.03%
                  Fair Trial: 1,371, 0.03%
                  Yisraelist: 976 votes, 0.02%
                  Ani VeAta: 811 votes, 0.02%
                  HaKoach L’Hashpia: 694, 0.02%
                  Ichud HaBrit: 675 votes, 0.01%
                  Seder Hadash: 675 votes, 0.01%
                  Mitkademet: 626 votes, 0.01%
                  Da’am: 612 votes, 0.01%
                  HaLev Hayehudi: 511 votes, 0.01%
                  Shema: 441 votes, 0.01%
                  HaGush Hatanachi: 388 votes, 0.01%
                  Kama:354 votes, 0.01%
                  Adom Lavan: 341 votes, 0.01%
                  HaHazon: 331 votes, 0.01%
                  Manhigut Hevratit: 271 votes, 0.01%
                  Peula L’Yisrael: 270 votes, 0.01%
                  Kavod HaAdam: 220 votes, 0.01%
                  Tzomet: 43 votes , 0.01%

                  By RAOUL WOOTLIFF

                  The Times of Israel