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October 11, 2012 3:45 am

Narrow Gains for Netanyahu Anticipated in New Elections

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: wiki commons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks set for easy re-election early next year, and may end up with a bigger coalition than he currently has, according to polls.

Citing deadlocked budget disputes with coalition allies and looming security challenges such as Iran’s nuclear program, Netanyahu on Oct. 9 moved the legislative election, originally slated for October 2013, to January or February.

A survey in the Maariv newspaper predicted Netanyahu’s rightist Likud party taking 29 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, up from its current 27. Likud’s two most powerful rivals, the center-Left Labor and a new centrist movement under former TV anchor Yair Lapid, would win 17 seats each, Maariv found.

Projecting from its own poll, the Haaretz newspaper said the next coalition government, led by Likud and comprising mostly religious or nationalist parties, could command 68 seats, up from today’s 66.

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