Exit polls show center-left bloc winning 62-66 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.
The Likud, which had hoped to block a center-left coalition, won 11 to 12 seats in the poll, far below the figures the party had hoped and a far cry from the 38 seats it won under Ariel Sharon in 2003.
The results, if accurate, could mean that the Likud would become Israel's fourth largest party, with the Russian immigrant-dominated Yisrael Beiteinu becoming the third largest list in the 120-seat house with 12 to 14 seats.
In the largest surprise of the night, the Pensioners party was seen to win six to eight seats. The Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Shas won 10-11 seats in the exit polls, meaning it could have the same strength as the Likud.
The polls also showed the right-wing National Union-NRP taking eight to nine seats and the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism five to six seats.
Low turnout vexes large parties
The three largest parties had been under mounting pressure as polls neared closing time, fearing that the lowest voter turnout in Israeli electoral history may sap their strength in the next Knesset.