Binyamin Netanyahu has won a fifth term

AFTER MONTHS of heated campaigning, Israeli voters decided to change very little. With most of the votes counted the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has won a fifth term in office in an election on April 9th. His Likud party tied with Blue and White, a centre-left party led by Benny Gantz, a former army chief. Both had about 27% of the vote. But the right-wing and religious bloc, of which Likud is a part, won a combined 53%.

That will give it a majority, probably with 64 seats in the 120-member Knesset (parliament), the same number it holds now. With several parties perched close to the 3.25% threshold to enter the Knesset, the results are still fluid. (Two have demanded a recount.) But Mr Gantz does not appear to have a viable coalition, nor a way to stop Mr Netanyahu from forming one.

As with the previous election, in 2015, early exit polls suggested that Mr Netanyahu had been weakened. His rival rushed on stage to declare victory soon after voting stopped. “A historic day”, Mr Gantz declared, telling supporters he would form the next government. While he made promises, Mr Netanyahu made phone calls. He received pledges of support from the ultra-Orthodox parties and a far-right grouping, enough to bring him within striking distance of a majority.

There were no signs of consternation as hundreds of Likud...

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