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Who Won Israel's Elections?

Shmuel Rosner is a Tel Aviv-based columnist. He blogs daily for The Jerusalem Post.

Israel's election yesterday was full of the usual drama, confusion, and politicking. But one thing was missing: clear winners. Right-wing Likud--hoping for a landslide victory--came in second. Centrist Kadima, the party now in power, won the most votes, but will probably remain unlikely to form a governing coalition. Even Yisrael Beiteinu, Avigdor Lieberman's dark horse ultra-right party, which came in third place, won fewer seats than has been apocalyptically predicted for the past few weeks. The leftist Labor Party ended up as the fourth largest party, with only 13 seats out of 120.

Kadima's Tzipi Livni, hoping to be Israel's Barack Obama, ended up as Israel's Al Gore--more votes but no viable path to governing. Likud's Bibi Netanyahu, hoping to resurrect his image by presenting a new, mellower persona, is stuck with the coalition of his worst nightmare--religious, radical, and combative. The public went to the polls to elect a new government and will now watch, helplessly and reluctantly, the unappealing process of political horse-trading. The elections have proven once again that Israel's electoral system--a parliamentary mess gone wild that rarely produces stable coalitions, and that forces Israel, time and again, into early elections--desperately needs to be reformed.

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