Israel’s parliamentary elections are underway, and incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is engaged in a tough battle to retain his position. According to Yahoo News by way of Agence France-Presse, last Friday’s polling gave the Zionist Union coalition, represented by Isaac Herzog, a slight lead over Netanyahu’s Likud party. The above-embedded video by Inform captures the election day drama.
This year’s election appears to have attracted an unusually high voter turnout. “I’ve never seen such a long queue outside a polling station,” said 73-year-old Israeli voter Gideon Leber.
Politico notes that Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to rally his voters to the polls today by sounding the alarm and saying that he feels his party may be on pace to lose the race if his supporters do not hustle to the voting booth. Said Netanyahu in Hebrew in a Facebook video translated by Haaretz, “The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out… Get out to vote, bring your friends and family, vote Likud in order to close the gap between us and Labor.”
An Arab Israeli voter named Ehab Hamam described the election day scene, “This is the first time that I’ve seen so many people here to vote… For the Arabs, voting in this election is saying to the right: We are here.” Of the 5.8 million eligible Israeli voters, 800,000 identify as Arabs.
According to NBC News‘ comprehensive breakdown of the Israeli parliamentary elections and the coalition process (rather than a direct election) through which the nation chooses its prime minister, 1,280 candidates representing 26 political parties are fighting for seats in Israel’s 120-member parliament. Polls are set to close today at 4:00 PM Eastern, and election results are expected to come in by Wednesday morning.