Netanyahu to become 'Israel's Putin' with yet another term in office
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is on path for victory in Israel's elections on Wednesday after nearly complete results put him in position to form a right-wing coalition and further extend his long tenure in office.
The results from Tuesday's vote came despite corruption allegations against the 69-year-old premier and put him on track to become Israel's longest-serving prime minister later this year.
Netanyahu's alliance with strongmen, alleged corruption and nepotism, media manipulation and authoritarian-like tendencies have prompted comparisons between him and autocrats in the region and the world, from Turkey's Erdogan to Russia's Putin.
His Likud party looked set to finish with a similar number of seats in parliament to his main rival, ex-military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White alliance, Israeli media reported.
But with 97 percent of the vote counted, results showed the Likud and other right-wing parties allied to him with some 65 seats in the 120-seat parliament, the reports said.
The result would seem to leave President Reuven Rivlin, whose task it is to ask one of the candidates to form a government, with little choice but to pick Netanyahu.
Intensive coalition negotiations are likely to follow and could drag on for days or even weeks.
Final results were expected by Thursday afternoon, with ballots for soldiers and other special categories of voters yet to be counted.
The close race between the two main parties had led to uncertainty after polls closed on Tuesday night and exit surveys were released.