Winter sunshine brings out voters

Likud election HQ chief Gideon Saar: High voter turnout benefits the left.

The unseasonably mild weather and bright sunshine has boosted voter turnout in polling stations around Israel. By 6 pm, 55.5% of the country's voters had cast their ballots compared with 50.3% in 2009. This is the highest voter turnout at this stage since the 1999 elections.

The general belief is that a stronger voter turnout benefits the center-left bloc and Education Minister Gideon Saar, chairman of the Likud-Beytenu election headquarters said that the Likud, "is certainly bothered that in such concentrations the left is strong when the percentage of voters is higher." Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu said he had received reports of low turnout in areas of traditional Likud support, and urged Likud voters to go to the polling stations. Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich said, "The voter turnout is amazing. No wonder Netanyahu is under pressure. There's a scent of a turnaround in the air." The various parties' representatives are going from house to house in the final hours of voting in a last ditch attempt to rally support.

10,132 ballot stations opened around the country at 7 am this morning and will close at 10 pm tonight. 5,656,705 citizens have the right to vote and choose between 34 party lists challenging for Knesset seats. This is the largest number of party lists ever in the 19 Knesset elections since the State of Israel was founded.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted in his local polling station in Jerusalem at 7.20 am accompanied by his wife Sara and sons Yair and Avner. He said, "It may not be raining today but we want a downpour of voting slips saying Likud, Likud, Likud and again Likud."

Netanyahu travelled on to the Western Wall with his son and put in a note saying, "with the help of God for the future of Israel".

President Shimon Peres voted at ballot station in the High School for the Arts in Jerusalem and called on all Israelis to go out and vote. "Normally citizens ask for things from politicians but today the State asks its citizens to vote for a free, democratic and beautiful country. Everybody should think hard about who they vote for but not about whether they should vote at all."

At 10 pm as soon as the polling stations close, Israel's major TV station will broadcast the results of their exit polls, and when results become clear party leaders will come to their respective headquarters for victory or defeat speeches.

The real results will not be known until the early hours of Wednesday morning, and the official results will not be published until towards the end of the week.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 22, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013 .

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