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Netanyahu scores Likud primary win

By Kevin Flower, CNN
February 1, 2012 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
Political observers in Israel predict Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu may call early elections to capitalize on high popularity ratings
Political observers in Israel predict Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu may call early elections to capitalize on high popularity ratings
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The next general election is slated for the fall of 2013
  • Analysts speculate that Netanyahu may call a early ballot
  • The prime minister won 74% of the party vote

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu handily won his Likud party leadership primary Tuesday, fueling speculation that he may soon call for nationwide elections.

Netanyahu thanked Likud party supporters for their support in a speech Tuesday night, but suggested a general election was still some time away.

General elections in Israel are slated to held in the fall of 2013 but many political observers in Israel have predicted that Netanyahu may call early elections to capitalize on high popularity ratings and possibly win a second term before the U.S. Presidential election in November.

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With most of the ballots counted, Netanyahu collected approximately 74% of the Likud party votes -- with his nearest rival, party activist Moshe Feiglin, receiving 24%, Israeli radio reported.

The turnout for the leadership primary was estimated at about 50% of 125,000 eligible voters.

The opposition Kadima party will hold its leadership contest in March

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