As we wrote Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had claimed victory for the right and for his party, Likud, on Tuesday night. What we didn’t know was what the final vote tally would look like or how slim the margin of victory would be. Now we know…
As the election day drew near, the polling got worse and worse for Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies on the right. By the final day of polling just a few days before the election it was beginning to look like the left would win a decisive victory. However, something happened, because on election day the exit polling showed a much closer race than any of the polling had predicted… and by the time the polls started closing, it was clear that the left was in trouble.
Now, the following morning, we know just how bad things are for Israel’s liberal wing and conversely just how well the conservatives did.
Instead of losing the election as expected, Netanyahu’s Likud actually won 6 more seats than their chief rivals in the Zionist Union. When all is said and done, Netanyahu will actually have the opportunity to build a strong center-right coalition that no one predicted possible just a few days ago. The Times of Israel went so far as to call it a “crushing victory”!
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So what happened? How did the election go from likely liberal win to “crushing” conservative victory?
Well, the polling data was obviously wrong. I don’t know why, I’m not even really sure how (other than vastly overestimating the number of votes the liberal parties would earn) it happened. The only thing that I am certain of is that the media and the pundits got it wrong and the people of Israel voted to elect an even stronger center-right government than they already had.
The Obama administration is complaining that Netanyahu won because he was being racist. (I’m not kidding.)
Jonathan Tobin at Commentary Magazine says that he believes at the end of the day Netanyahu and Likud won, not because of racism, but because the Israeli people are “realists.”
It means they are, like most Americans, realists. They may not like Netanyahu but today’s results demonstrates that there is little support for a government that would make the sort of concessions to the Palestinians that President Obama would like. They rightly believe that even if Israel did make more concessions it would only lead to more violence, not peace. Israel’s foreign critics and friends need to understand that in the end, it was those convictions have, for all intents and purposes, re-elected Netanyahu.
That sounds like as good a reason as any to me.
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