Amir Peretz actually looks like one of the big winners — clearly surpassing expectations — if exit polls hold steady with vote count.
Avigdor Lieberman of the Russian-immigrant supported Yisrael Beitanu party — a hard-right party — is also a big winner.
Netanyahu is the largest loser of the day — and the Likud are apparently in crisis mode.
Here is an update on poll results (120 seats total):
Kadima 28 (in 2003 — 0) Center-Left
Labor 20 (in 2003 — 19) Center-Left
Shas 13 (in 2003 — 11) (Orthodox, not part of National Right)
Yisrael Beitenu 12 (in 2003 — ?) Right
Likud 11 (in 2003 — 38) Right
NU-NRP 9 (in 2003 — 13) Right
UTJ 6 (in 2003 — 5) (Orthodox, not part of National Right)
Meretz 4 (in 2003 — 6) Center-Left
Pensioners 7 (in 2003 — ?) Center-Left
Arab 10 (in 2003 — 2) Center-Left
This gives the Center-Left a potential range of seats between 69, and the right 32, with the ultra orthodox (who are not part of the national right) at 19.
Shas, as part of the ultra orthodox camp, has already been rumored to be a likely coalition partner to Kadima and Labor, which would take two-thirds of the orthodox seats at 19 and put those in a center-left coalition as well.
I am breaking my earlier vow not to run numbers publicly until official results are announced.
I have listed the 2003 party strength numbers that I could quickly find.
I am doing so with trepidation, but these numbers were just sent to me from a seasoned Israeli political insider.
All in all, this is the sort of result that portends many positive possibilities.
— Steve Clemons