Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has moved a step closer to becoming the country’s next prime minister after securing a narrow victory in the ruling Kadima party’s leadership election.
The count continued throughout the night as her rival, Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, refused to concede defeat.
The margin between the two tightened as the count went on and the final result was just over one percentage point with Livni on 43.1 per cent and Mofaz on 42 per cent.
Aides to the former general have even talked of contesting the result after complaining of irregularities.
A spokesman for Mofaz said he had no plans to speak until later today.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert telephoned Livni to congratulate her on winning the vote to succeed him and promised his full cooperation, said a spokesman for his office.
Mofaz had trailed Livni in the polls throughout the campaign.
Officials said just over half of the 74,000 members of the centrist party had voted.
Livni now faces protracted coalition wrangling before she can attain the office of prime minister.
Livni in line for PM's job