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Low voter turnout in Israel elections

  |   March 28, 2006 at 2:31 PM
TEL AVIV, Israel, March 28 (UPI) -- Voter turnout in Israel's elections was low Tuesday and political analysts believe that helps the smaller ideological parties at the expense of the bigger ones.

Some 57 percent of the Israeli voters cast their ballots two hours before the polling stations were to close.

This is an exceptionally low turnout for Israel although it might seem less dramatic when considering that 10 percent of the Israelis are abroad.

The low turnout is expected to help the smaller and more ideological parties.

There was speculation that Kadima that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had formed would still emerge first but that Labor might be a close second with the predominantly Russian Israel Beiytenu (Israel is our home) making a significant stride.

One of the lists that may benefit from the low turnout might be a small new list that seeks to help retired people and seems to have attracted also young people concerned about their elderly parents. Rafi Eitan, who headed the secret Lakam spy unit that ran U.S. naval analyst Jonathan Pollard currently serving a life sentence in the U.S, heads the party.

The big parties are now trying hard to convince people to leave their homes before the polling stations close.

In Yehud, near Tel Aviv, three activists for the orthodox Shas Party went looking for people who have not yet voted and offered to drive them to the polling stations and back. "Vote for God," one of them advised and only when pressed what that means said Shas.

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