Israel Election Results
With 89% of the vote counted, the projected results are as follows
Kadima - 29 Seats in the Knesset (Parliament)
Labor - 20
Shas - 12
Likud - 12
Israel Beitenu - 11
National Religious Party/Ntional Union - 8
Pensioners Party - 8
United Torah Judaism - 6
Meretz - 5
Balad - 3
Hadash - 3
United Arab List - 3
This is a very interesting result. Kadima, while still in first place, did much poorer than expected. Likud dropped into fourth place (possibly fifth by night's end). Israel Beitenu came out of nowhere to take 11 seats (up from two).
The most suprising news of the night is the strong finish of the Pensioners Party. The pensioners have ran in every election in Israels history, but they have never gotten into the Knesset. However, they blew onto the scene in the last week as a protest vote for twentysomethings in Tel Aviv. These people were apparently fed up with the establishment political parties (particularly all of the rhetoric about Hamas and national defence). Hence, they voted for the one party that they could feel good about, a party that has no agenda other than taking care of grandma and grandpa.
Obviously, Kadima leader Ehud Olmert will form the government, but he will have to build a rather large coalition of parties to get to a majority of 61 seats. Labor (20 seats) will probably be a part of the coaliton, since they support Olmert's plan to withdraw from the West Bank. The Pensioners (8 seats) will be easy to get, because they have simple demands (give more money to grandpa). United Torah Judaism (6 seats) is also easy to get, all that Kadima has to do is agree to fund a few Orthodox religious causes, like yeshivas (religious schools) . This gives the coalition 63 seats.
While I would certainly prefer a coalition led by Likud, I like this result. Thanks to the rise of the Pensioners, Olmert no longer needs incorportate the far-left Meretz party in his coalition. Labor will certainly try to drag the government to the left, but adding Meretz (which is VERY far left and wants to give LOTS of land to the Palestinians) to the mix would have made it far worse. Thanks to the pensioners, Olmert can now pursue a more centrist agenda (which is what he wants).