Wow, these elections are turning out quite differently from what I expected, at least if we can trust these exit polls.
It looks like Kadima will get 31 seats. Labor, thank God, is doing much better than I anticipated: let's say 20 seats. Yisrael Beitenu, Avigdor Liberman's party, which appealed mainly to Russian immigrants, might become the third-largest party with 13 seats, while the Likud could drop to fourth place with 12 seats. Shas should get around 10 seats. The big surprise is the Pensioners' Party, which might gain 7 seats. Meretz will probably get at least 5 seats. I haven't looked at the data for the NRP-NU, United Torah, or the Arab parties yet. It looks like the low voter turnout really hurt Kadima and benefitted the Pensioners, which is partly in line with my prediction. Turnout among Arab voters is even lower; I am not sure what that means in terms of the results.
What kinds of coalitions are we looking at here? It does look like a center-left bloc will be able to form a government, but who knows what exactly will happen.
Is it possible that Olmert will renege and build a coalition with Yisrael Beitenu? Will Shas or the Ashkenazi ultras be a part of this government? If the Pensioners join the government, what will their role be?
I am really curious about GIL גימלאי ישראל לכנסת (gimla'ei yisrael la-knesset) - the Pensioners Party. The first person on the list is Eitan Rafael. They even have a Wikipedia entry but only in English! The Israeli Knesset web site (English or Hebrew version) doesn't have any additional information either. Anyway, you gotta respect those senior citizens showing people how to get off your ass and vote!
I could see Liberman staying in the opposition - in some ways, it's not so bad for him to bide his time until the next elections roll around. The Russians will keep feeling neglected by the other parties. By staying out of power, Liberman will be able to absolve himself of any responsibility for tought decisions about the economy and the security situation. Then again, he really wants a ministerial post. Let's see what happens.
the big Loser? if the exIt polls are right, we Know who that is...but i am afraid to say anything Until i see it confirmeD.