With the vote on 99.5 percent, Kadima had a less than expected 28 seats. Labor held at 20 seats, and Shas rose to 13, making the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party the third largest faction in the Knesset.
The Likud had hoped to block a center-left coalition, but with almost all of the votes in weakened to 11 seats, far below the figures the party had hoped and a far cry from the 38 seats it won under Ariel Sharon in 2003.
Avigdor Lieberman's Russian immigrant-dominated faction Yisrael Beiteinu captured 12 seats, positioning itself as the chief opposition party to head the nationalist camp.
In the largest surprise of the night, the Pensioners party won seven seats. The right-wing National Union-National Religious Party secured nine seats, with United Torah Judaism at six and Meretz at four. The Arab parties stood to win a total of ten seats.
Exit polls released as polling stations closed at 10 P.M. Tuesday showed center-left parties gaining a total of between 62 and 66 seats, with Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima winning 29 to 32 seats, Labor 20-22 seats, Meretz five and the Arab parties seven to eight seats.
March 29, 2006
Israel's lowest ever election turnout
Here's Ha'aretz on yesterday's Israeli elections.