Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s prospects for retaining power looked uncertain on Wednesday after partial results in Israel’s fourth national election in two years projected no clear path to victory.
Though an official result was still hours – or days – away, with about 88% of votes counted, it appeared that Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud, would have to cobble together an unlikely coalition that might include Jewish ultra-Orthodox, ultranationalist and Arab parties to secure another term.
Barring any surprises from the remaining uncounted votes, the electoral landscape raised the likelihood of yet another national ballot.
Tuesday’s vote followed three other inconclusive elections in which neither Netanyahu, 71, nor his center-left opponents won a majority in the 120-seat parliament.
As it stands, Likud was projected to be the largest party with 30 seats, fewer than its current 36. The opposition centrist party Yesh Atid, which is headed by 57-year-old Yair Lapid, trailed with 17 seats.
Lapid had hoped there would be enough parties in the anti-Netanyahu bloc to oust the veteran leader who has been in power since 2009.
On social media, Netanyahu had claimed a “huge victory” over the groups trying to unseat him, though he did not repeat the claim in an election night speech at a Likud rally, saying only that its projected number of seats was “a great achievement” and that he hoped to form a “stable right-wing government.”