Likud candidate Ariel Sharon won a landslide victory
according to both independent television exit polls that
were announced at 10 p.m. Tuesday night with the closing of
voting. Both polls gave Sharon a lead of 19 percent, close
to the results that the sample polls had been showing prior
to the elections.
Even though chareidim were not excited by either candidate,
they responded to the call of the rabbonim by voting for
"the candidate who, it is hoped, will not lend a hand to
destroy religion in Eretz Hakodesh."
Overall no more than 60 percent of those eligible voted,
perhaps the lowest participation in an election in Israeli
history. In the previous elections some 70 percent of those
eligible voted. Israeli Arabs responded to the calls of
their leaders to boycott the elections. However, the
difference was so great that even if all of them had voted
for Barak, he would still have lost the election.
In Yehuda and Shomron, the percentage of voters was high.
Among the soldiers the percentage of voters was comparable
to the last election.
After the announcement of the results, Likud leaders
repeated their intention to form a broad unity government to
include the Likud. Strategists also said that they planned
to launch a big public relations effort throughout the world
to explain Sharon's diplomatic plans for the near future.