Livni's Party Wins, but Netanyahu May Be Next PM

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2009 2:58 PM CST
Israel's Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters as he visits a shopping mall in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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(Newser) – This much is clear: Exit polls show that Tzipi Livni's Kadima Party has narrowly defeated Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party, the Jerusalem Post reports. So who will be the next prime minister? Not so clear. In fact, both candidates are claiming the mantle. Israel's election rules say the party with the best chance of forming a ruling coalition—not necessarily the overall winner—gets the post. Given the surge of the right-wing Israel Beiteinu party, Netanyahu has the edge, the Post notes.

Polls have the centrist Kadima winning 30 seats, ahead of Likud (28), Yisrael Beiteinu (14), and Labor (13). Some polls vary in the numbers, but not the order of finish. When the results are final, President Shimon Peres will meet with party leaders, and he has the authority to give the prime minister's post to the candidate with the best chance of forming a government.