According to News12 pundit Amit Segal, with 86% of the votes on Wednesday night, it became clear that the right-wing parties including Ayelet Shaked received 2,041,252 votes, or 50.04% – worth about 60 mandates, while the left-wing parties together with the Arabs received 2,033,063 votes, also worth about 60 mandates. The right’s advantage was only between 6,000 and 8,000 votes.
The reason the right-wing bloc has taken in so many more votes than it had earned, an overwhelming, 65-mandate majority, was the result of the selfishness and ineptitude of Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Labor Chair Merav Michaeli, and Balad Chair Sami Abu Shehadeh.
Lapid was more concerned with boosting his own party’s numbers in preparation for his stint in the opposition and the next round of elections than he was with pushing Labor and Meretz to unite, and insisting Balad remain in a tactical bloc with Hadash-Ta’al. Without those two defensive moves, Meretz and Balad came in below the vote threshold and their lost votes boosted Netanyahu’s coalition by five mandates, making the balance of power in the 25th Knesset 65 to 55.
Netanyahu is also credited with maximizing the yield from right-wing voters, by forcing Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich to run together, and by initiating firm vote surplus deals between Likud and RZ, and Shas and UTJ. It has also been reported that the next prime minister also cut a deal with Ayelet Shaked, promising her absolution in exchange for her sticking it out to the bitter end. As a result, Shaked siphoned votes that would have gone to Benny Gantz’s party, with little damage to the right-wing bloc.
As of Thursday afternoon, with 94.28% of the votes counted, Netanyahu maintains his 65-mandate bloc.