Will Israelis end the political deadlock when they go to the polling station on Monday for an unprecedented third election in under a year ?
At 2 p.m., the voter turnout was 38.1%, a 1.6% increase from the September elections and the highest turnout rate at this hour since the 1999 elections, despite worries about voter fatigue and coronavirus fears.
Voters across the country cast ballots for leading parties Likud, Blue and White or one of the smattering of other parties vying for Knesset seats.
Most of the 10,631 polling stations opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 10 p.m (9 p.m; Brussels time), enabling Israel’s 6,453,255 eligible voters to cast ballots. There are also also 14 special polling stations for the 5,630 Israelis quarantined due to exposure to the coronavirus.
Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz predicted victory at political events on Sunday.
After two inconclusive elections last year, opinion polls forecast another stalemate in a vote largely seen as a referendum on Pprime Minister and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who will go on trial on corruption charges on March 17.
Twenty-nine parties are running, but no more than eight are likely to clear the 3.25% electoral threshold needed to enter the 120-member Knesset.
Polling in the final days before Monday’s election showed support for Likud grow slightly, with the party possibly surpassing its rival Blue and White, though the surveys indicated it is still several seats short of achieving a 61-seat Knesset majority without the support of Yisrael Beitenu’s Avigdor Lieberman.