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Israel national election, results and discussion

I'll be working this throughout the evening, or until results are clear.

More and more, it looks like Netanyahu

[3:25 EST update] The election coverage does not exist on the FP of cnn.com, or on Drudge. They appear engrossed in slobbering over Porkulus and Geithner’s market-killing sermon. No significant changes in exit polls.

Also as commenter evanm reminds (thanks friend), I’m drawing the bulk of my coverage from Arutz Sheva, aka Israel National News, Israel’s renegade right-wing journalism home and 4th biggest overall news presence.
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[3:40 EST update] No actual results yet, should be another 20 minutes. Like I mentioned in the RedHot, it’s a really crappy weather day, especially in the northern part of Israel. And the whole country is what, 100 miles tall?
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[3:50 EST update] Predictably, CNN trumpets Kadima’s slim plurality in the headline, although conceding in the text that it’ll be Likud. I’m still trying to find out useful info on Shas. INN also reports that the Arabs (3 parties I think) have secured 9 seats of the 120 (according to exit polls).
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[4:10 EST update] still just exit polls. They are running a bit behind what they expected.
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[4:45 EST update] still nothing.
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[5:30 EST update] still nothing. Booooooooorrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiing……..
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[5:38 EST update] FINALLY!! I don’t know how many precincts reporting (probably 10-20%) shows Kadima leading 27-25, but expected coalitions have Likud ahead 63-57.
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[6:10 EST update] OK, what is it with these jokers? They keep you up to date with how the 120-member Knesset split is going, but this little item called what FRICKING percentage of precincts reporting seems to be of no interest. Likud’s coalition now ahead 67-53.
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[6:45 EST update] more precincts in, no changes in percentages.
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[6:45 EST update] no changes, but I can confirm that 30% of votes have been counted.
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[6:50 EST update] 50% of votes have been counted, looks like the Likud coalition is up 68-52.
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[7:00 EST update] oops, make that 65-55. The down-line guys are shuffling differently than I thought.
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[7:35 EST update] holding at 65-55, with 75% of the vote in. This baby is DONE!
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[7:50 EST update] last update. Still at 65-55, 81% of vote is in. I’m headed to the house.
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[original post starts here]

Polls across the nation closed at 3pm EST, 10pm local Israel time. As discussed earlier, Israel has a parliamentary system, and voters vote for the party, not the prime minister per se.

According to polls, it was Netanyahu’s race to lose, the Likud candidate who was also the PM from 1996-1999. Netanyahu and his center-right party are viewed favorably by conservatives in the US. Their chief rivals are the Kadima Party, centrists who have led ruling coalitions for most of the last 9 years.

Exit polls are released immediately, but it’s about an hour before actual election returns start trickling in. Turnout was high but not historically high,

Exit polls (120 total seats):
Kadima (centrist)(Tzipi Livni) – 29
Likud (center-right)(Bibi Netanyahu) – 27
Yisrael Beiteinu (right hardline)(Avigdor Lieberman) – 15
Labor (labor-left)(Ehud Barak) – 13
Shas (?)(?) – 10
various others – 24

As far as expected coalitions go:
Nationalist (led by Likud) – 64
Leftwing (led by Kadima) – 53
(that does not add up to 120, but I’m reporting what I am finding)
Updates to come.

Actual voting results (120 seats);
12:15 local time
unknown % precincts reporting
Kadima (centrist)(Tzipi Livni) – 27
Likud (center-right)(Bibi Netanyahu) – 25
Yisrael Beiteinu (right hardline)(Avigdor Lieberman) – 15
Labor (labor-left)(Ehud Barak) – 13
Shas (?)(?) – 11

Nationalist/Religious Bloc (Likud,Yisrael Beiteinu,Shas,etc) – 63
Leftwing Bloc (Kadima, Labor, Arab, etc) -57
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12:55 local time
unknown % precincts reporting
Kadima (centrist)(Tzipi Livni) – 28
Likud (center-right)(Bibi Netanyahu) – 27
Yisrael Beiteinu (right hardline)(Avigdor Lieberman) – 16
Labor (labor-left)(Ehud Barak) – 13
Shas (?)(?) – 11

Nationalist/Religious Bloc (Likud,Yisrael Beiteinu,Shas,etc) – 67
Leftwing Bloc (Kadima, Labor, Arab, etc) -53

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01:55 am local time
50% precincts reporting
Kadima (centrist)(Tzipi Livni) – 28
Likud (center-right)(Bibi Netanyahu) – 27
Yisrael Beiteinu (right hardline)(Avigdor Lieberman) – 16
Labor (labor-left)(Ehud Barak) – 12
Shas (?)(?) – 11

Nationalist/Religious Bloc (Likud,Yisrael Beiteinu,Shas,etc) – 68
Leftwing Bloc (Kadima, Labor, Arab, etc) -52

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02:32 am local time
50% precincts reporting
Kadima (centrist)(Tzipi Livni) – 28
Likud (center-right)(Bibi Netanyahu) – 27
Yisrael Beiteinu (right hardline)(Avigdor Lieberman) – 15
Labor (labor-left)(Ehud Barak) – 12
Shas (?)(?) – 10

Nationalist/Religious Bloc (Likud,Yisrael Beiteinu,Shas,etc) – 65
Leftwing Bloc (Kadima, Labor, Arab, etc) -55

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