By Amber Daugherty
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, cast his vote Tuesday in his country’s election that many are anticipating will return him to a third term in office.
“We want Israel to succeed, we vote Likud-Beitenu,” Reuters reported the prime minister saying in reference to his political party.
“The bigger it is, the more Israel will succeed,” he said as he left the polling station with his wife and children.
Netanyahu’s time as prime minister has been marred by several controversies. Likud has joined forces for this election with the Yisrael Beitenu party, a far-right party whose leader, Avigdor Lieberman, is currently facing charges for fraud and breach of trust.
But polls are suggesting that despite the coalition of the parties, the prime minister is expected to get fewer seats in the Knesset.
Reuters reported the last public opinion poll published Friday predicted Likud-Beitneu would win 32 seats in the 120-seat parliament, which would be ten less than both parties received when they ran separately during the last election.
The Jewish Home Party, led by Naftali Bennett, may be set to take some of the lost seats. Opinion polls projected as many as 14 to what the Daily Beast said is quickly becoming a trendy party. Its appeal seems to be mostly towards Israelis under 30, Reuters reported.
The BBC reported Bennett was confident about the election, saying, “Something new is starting for the people of Israel.”
Bennett is Netanyahu’s former chief of staff and a successful entrepreneur, who co-founded the anti-fraud software company “Cyota”.
According to the Daily Beast, he’s attractive in the eyes of younger people because he’s optimistic and he genuinely believes he can improve the country.
Israel is currently facing a multi-billion dollar deficit, and a growing uncertainty about nuclear operations in Iran, CNN reported.
But the party expected to be the second largest is Labour, led by Shelly Yachnimovich, a former journalist. The party says it would increase the minimum wage and end privatization of social services, the BBC reported. The party is projected to get 17 seats.
Voting turnout was up from the last election, BBC reported. By mid-afternoon Tuesday in Israel, turnout was up to 38.3 per cent, over a four per cent jump from the same time four years ago and the highest level since 1999.
A win for Netanyahu could prompt a visit to the Holy Land by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Although Canada has been a staunch supporter of Israel, Harper has yet to visit the country as prime minister.