The first exit polls have been announced from the various Israeli TV stations. Here they are:
Likud 31 Right/Right-Centre
Yeish Atid 19 Left/Left-Centre
Labour 17 Left
Shas 12 Ultra-Religious
Bayit Yehudi - 12 Religious/Right
Meretz 7 Left
Hatenuah 7 Left-Centre
Yehadut HaTorah 6 Ultra-Religious
Hadash 4 Arab/Left
Raam-Taal 3 Arab/Left
Balad 2 Arab/Left
This estimate puts the "right wing" and religious parties at 61...and
the centre, left and Arab parties at 59...very interesting...
for the ultra-right "Otzma L'Yisrael," the Green Leaf party, the Pirate
party - or, suprisingly, Kadimah - which was once up to 28 seats. Many other parties were disappointed and did not obtain enough votes to win a seat in the Knesset.
These are only exit poll results and could still change somewhat when actual results are reported.
Right now, it seems fair to say that the big winners include Yeish Atid (a new centrist party that has won an estimated 19 seats), Bayit Yehudi (a right wing/religious party that has won an estimated 12 seats and Meretz - a left wing party that is up to 6 or 7). Prime Minister Netanyahu has been reduced to an estimated 31 seats (with the Yisrael Beitenu party) but will still, almost certainly, be the Prime Minister.
The big losers appear to be Kadimah (a centrist party that appears to have been reduced to 0 and eliminated from the Knesset), Hatenuah (Tsipi's Livni's centrist party - at 7) and Labour (Historically one of Israel's strongest parties, now at an estimated 17 and in third place).
If these results hold up, Prime Minister Netanyahu would be in a position to put together a razor-thin, right wing/religious government that had a bare majority of 2 seats - 61-59. Most commentators feel that this is unlikely.
Alternatively, Prime Minister Netanyahu could put together a much more centrist coalition including Yeish Atid and possibly HaTenuah. This will be challenging since the Prime Minister will have to balance very conflicting demands from right wing and religious parties with the demands for change from centrist parties. Yeish Atid leader Yair Lapid has insisted throughout the campaign that he will only join the government if Prime Minister Netanyahu makes significant concessions. Lapid's most significant demands include equal military conscription or national service for every Israeli citizen (something that the 17 ultra-religious Knesset members will staunchly oppose), wholesale changes to education and housing (also opposed by the ultra-religious) and meaningful efforts to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians (which the right wing and ultra-religious parties will oppose). If Lapid joins a coalition without significant movement on these issues, he will lose credibility and support.
The final, actual results could be very significant, particularly if they change the right wing-left wing balance that is currently projected at 61-59 for the right.