Polls opened in some 10,000 polling stations across the country at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning, as Israelis voted to determine the makeup of the 19th Knesset.
The 32 parties running in the elections began the day with efforts to encourage and to help voters reach their polling places. More than 5.6 million Israelis are eligible to vote but, with voter turnout initially expected to be relatively low — though morning figures showed a rise on the 2009 levels — each vote took on even greater significance. The lower the turnout, the better the prospects for some of the fringe parties to clear the 2% Knesset threshold, analysts said.
A day earlier, President Shimon Peres encouraged citizens to exercise their right to vote, saying, “It’s very important that every one of you, once every four years, shows the world that this is a democratic country, with citizens who love their country and democracy. Come out and do so, with a whole heart, with pride and with full participation.”
The last pre-election polls, released Friday night, projected a narrow victory for a right-wing bloc. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu joint list was projected to be the largest vote-getter, with a relatively tight race projected among Labor, Jewish Home, Yesh Atid, Shas and Hatnua.