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Record Voter Turnout in Israel, But Not for Bibi

Early estimates suggest that nearly 50% of eligible voters have cast ballots

Adam Chandler
January 22, 2013

Just over an hour ago, the Central Elections Committee in Israel released numbers suggesting that Israeli voters have turned out in record numbers to cast ballots in this year’s elections. According to the CEC, voter turnout “has risen to 46.6%, up from 38.3% two hours prior. By the same time in the last election only 41.9% had cast their ballots, and in 2006 only 39% had voted.”

The twist is that there are also reports of poor showings in traditionally Likud-leaning areas, which bodes ill for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“There are reports that in regions that have traditionally been Likud strongholds, turnout has been lower than the national average,” Netanyahu said during a visit to a polling station in Ashdod. “I therefore call on all generations of Likud voters to drop everything and go vote.”

Not that Netanyahu would ever sound an unnecessary alarm, but is it worth wondering whether Likud turnout is just fine and Netanyahu just wants to surge amid recently sliding poll numbers?

I suppose we’ll know soon enough.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.