FirstFT: Exit polls show Netanyahu’s rightwing bloc holds slim lead in Israeli election


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Israel’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in pole position to emerge victorious from yesterday’s parliamentary elections, according to exit polls that put his rightwing bloc on course for a razor-thin majority.

Polls by Israel’s three main television channels, released after voting closed, forecast that a bloc combining Netanyahu’s Likud party, the extreme-right Religious Zionism grouping and two ultra-Orthodox parties that have traditionally backed Netanyahu would win 61 to 62 seats.

The Yesh Atid party of prime minister Yair Lapid and several smaller allies were forecast to win 54 to 55 seats between them, while the non-aligned Arab Hadash-Ta’al grouping was predicted four mandates.

Exit polls in previous Israeli elections have not always been accurate, and final results could change as votes are counted through the night, especially if a small Arab party currently forecast to fall below the electoral threshold were to clear it.

But if they prove correct, Netanyahu’s bloc would hold a thin majority in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset, and he would have a path back to power less than 18 months after being ousted by a sprawling eight-party coalition.

“We’re alive and kicking,” Netanyahu said, according to Israel’s Channel 13 TV station.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Here’s the rest of the news — Gary

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Economic data Germany releases September unemployment figures, while JPMorgan publishes its Global Manufacturing PMI.

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