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Israel gears up for cliff-hanger election

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Israel gears up for cliff-hanger election


In Israel, voting has started for the army on the eve of a general election, which is expected to see the right return to power.

However, the battle will be very close with some polls revealing up to 15 percent of the population could still be undecided. Former premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud has been in the lead since last November, and looks set to benefit from a disillusioned electorate worried about security and the economy. A former military commando, Netanyahu is a self-styled terrorism expert. As finance minister, he championed welfare cuts and free-market practices, and has presented himself as the man to keep Israel’s economy afloat in the global crisis. However, all hope is not gone for his main rival Tzipi Livni and her ruling Kadima party. Narrowly trailing in the polls, the foreign minister, who had until now refused to play the feminism card, has decided to exploit her image as a woman in last days of campaigning. She is hoping to become the first female prime minister since Golda Meir in the 1970s. But things are not looking good for Ehud Barak, whose Labour party is in fourth position in opinion polls, behind ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman. His anti-Arab rehetoric has won him a large following, which now places his Yisrael Beiteinu party – or Israel is Our Home – in third place in opinion polls.

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