TEL AVIV, January 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russian-speaking residents of Israel are expected to elect 20 deputies of the country’s 120-seat parliament on Tuesday, an Israeli scholar said before the polls closed.
Doctor Ze’ev Hanin, a political scientist with the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, said that Soviet Jews who immigrated to Israel have sufficiently integrated into the local environment to be guided by the country’s interests, but still strongly value their identity.
Hanin told RIA Novosti that category of voters, which numbers 830,000 people, prefers to vote mainly for parties with a national agenda but “a strong Russian accent.”
“We can expect that out of [those] 830,000 voters, some 600,000 will vote at the elections. They will define the fate of some 20 mandates,” Hanin said, adding that the majority of “Russian” votes, equivalent to 12-13 mandates, will go to election favorites Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) and the Likud party.
Yisrael Beitenu is led by Avigdor Lieberman, who was recently forced to resign as foreign minister over accusations of a breach of trust in connection with a long-running financial scandal. Likud is led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Over 5.6 million Israelis are eligible to vote on Tuesday in a general election expected to give Netanyahu, who leads the Likud-Beitenu right-wing alliance, a third term of office. According to election officials, voter turnout has already exceeded 55 percent.