Turnout in Israel’s elections has exceeded expectations despite bad weather and fears over voter apathy.A total of 30 parties are vying for 120 seats in the Knesset. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party, had established a lead in opinion polls. However, the margin has diminished in recent weeks and Likud appears to be in a tight race with the biggest party in the outgoing government, Kadima. Kadima leader Tzipi Livni tried and failed to form a government in September, when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stepped down amid corruption allegations. The once-dominant Labour party is struggling in fourth place in the polls. Led by Defence Minister Ehud Barak, the centre-left party has suffered from a shift to the right brought on by security fears and the recent Gaza conflict. The ultra-right Ysrael Beiteinu party of Avigdor Lieberman has drawn on growing support for its tough stance on Palestinians to move into third place in opinion polls.
Israelis heed the call to the ballot box