The Central Elections Committee on Thursday released the final results of Israel's 2013 election, after all ballots at places other than regular polling stations were counted. At the end of the day, the right bloc had a small majority.
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The elections committee on Wednesday night began counting the 217,000 double-sealed envelope ballots, used by soldiers, patients in hospitals, doctors and nurses on call, prisoners, police officers and prison guards, polling booth secretaries, disabled people and overseas government personnel.
With 60% of the double-sealed ballots counted by Thursday morning, it already appeared that Habayit Hayehudi will receive 12 seats, one more than expected from the exit polls, while the United Arab List – Ta'al will shrink from five to four seats. Kadima appears to have secured its place beyond the necessary threshold for Knesset, with two seats.
Twelfth on Habayit Hayehudi's list is Shuli Moalem, a Gush Etzion resident, widow of lieutenant colonel Moshe Moalem who died in the 1997 IAF helicopter disaster. Fifth place at United Arab List-Ta’al- who is expected to stay out of the Knesset- is the long-serving MK Talab al-Sana. Shaul Mofaz and Yisrael Hasson will sit in Knesset for Kadima.
There are no changes to the number of seats allocated to any of the other parties: Likud-Beitenu 31, Yesh Atid 19, Labor 15, Shas 11, United Torah Judaism 7, Hatnuah 6, Meretz 6, Hadash 4, and Balad 3. Otzma Leyisrael is far from the threshold and will not be in the next Knesset.
The double-sealed ballots showed Likud-Beiteinu with 24.5 percent of the votes, 1 percent more than it received from the general population. Yesh Atid received 17 percent of all votes, 3 percent more than it received from the general population. The final count changes the breakdown of the blocs, giving the religious-right-wing blog 61 seats in the 19th Knesset, as opposed to 59 for the center-left bloc.
The parties that came closest to reaching the threshold were Otzma LeYisrael, which garnered 1.75% of the votes; Am Shalem with 1.2 percent, and Aleh Yarok with 1.11 percent. The party that won the lowest number of votes is Moreshet Avot, chaired by Ilan Meshicha, which only got 0.01 percent of the voters, equivalent to 511 total votes. The Brit Olam and Hope for Change parties received 0.02 percent of all the voters. The number of votes for parties that did not reach the 2 percent threshold reached more than 261,000, almost 7 percent of all voters, which is more than the number of Knesset seats United Torah Judaism received.
Hours after polls closed on Tuesday, and after 99 percent of the votes were tallied, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had already claimed a mandate to a third term as premier. The next step following the release of the final results will be the process of forming the next coalition.
Central Elections Committee Chairman Judge Elyakim Rubinstein has until next Wednesday to submit the final results to President Shimon Peres, pending appeals, which places some restraints on the latter's ability to consult with party leaders about whom he should ask to form the next coalition.
According to Israel's Basic Law, these talks with Knesset faction leaders can take up to a week, but Peres intends to work fast and assign the task of forming a coalition to the selected candidate within two days after he receives the final results. This means that the task may be assigned by the end of next week.
Voter turnout in Tuesday’s election rang out at 67.7 percent once all the votes were counted. This figure was up from the previous 66.6 percent figure estimated by the Central Elections Committee Wednesday night, based on a sampling of 60 polling stations.