The Central Election Committee released the final results of the 2013 general election in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The joint Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu ticket was able to secure 31 Knesset seats, a significant drop from pre-election polls that predicted the ruling party and its ally would win 42 mandates.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a victory speech shortly after midnight, saying: “I’m proud to be your prime minister. I thank you for giving me a chance, for the third time, to lead the State of Israel. It is a great privilege and a great responsibility,” he said.
Tuesday’s true victor was, however, journalist-turned-politician Yair Lapid, whose party, Yesh Atid, was able to win 19 mandates; cementing its status as the second-largest party in the Knesset.
Labor was also able to rehabilitate its position in the House, winning 15 seats and becoming the Knesset’s third-largest party.
Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich insisted Tuesday that “There is a high probability of a (political) upset.”
Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua failed to reach the projected nine mandates and won six seats; while Meretz was able to double its power, from three to six mandates.
According to a tally of 99% of the votes, the results are as follows:
Factoring in the Arab parties’ mandates, the House could potentially be divided 60-60.
The results are expected to make it tough for Netanyahu to form a coalition. The prime minister vowed to form as broad a coalition as possible, saying that aside from the Likud’s natural partners, he considers Yesh Atid a “ture partner.”
Political analysts hedged Tuesday that as leader of the Knesset’s second-largest party, it is highly unlikely that Lapid will refuse an invitation to join the coalition.
Israel’s 2013 election saw record voter turnout. According to the Central Election Committee, 66.6% of Israelis exercised their right to vote, as well as 80% of IDFsoldiers. Out of some 3.767 million votes cast, only about 40,000 were disqualified.
Voter turnout was the highest since 1999, the committee said, although it dropped significantly in the Arab sector.