April 9, 2019 / 2:37 PM / 16 days ago

Get out of the water and save me, Netanyahu tells election day beach-goers

People swim in the Mediterranean Sea as they enjoy themselves at the beach during Israel's parliamentary election day, in Tel Aviv, Israel April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Corinna Kern

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Get out of the water and vote for me, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged beach-goers during an election day visit to the Mediterranean seashore on Tuesday.

Wearing a sport jacket over an open-neck shirt and surrounded by bodyguards in suits and ties, Netanyahu went to Poleg beach, north of Tel Aviv, and posted a video of his appeal on his Twitter page.

“If you want to continue with the Likud and me, then you have to go vote,” he said, referring to the right-wing party that he leads. “Go to the beach later.”

Otherwise, Netanyahu said, those enjoying a day at the beach would “wake up tomorrow morning” and find a left-wing prime minister had replaced him.

Election day is an official holiday in Israel, with schools and offices closed. It was also warm and sunny, and with polling stations open until 10 p.m., voters had plenty of time to hit the beach.

On Twitter, Netanyahu later said he was calling an emergency meeting with his campaign officials to discuss what he described as lower voter turnout in Likud strongholds compared with a strong voting percentage in “left-wing bastions”.

Official figures posted by the Israeli Central Elections Committee put overall turnout, some eight hours before polls close, at less than a percentage point lower than at the same time during the previous national ballot in 2015.

Opinion polls have said Netanyahu is the favorite to win, predicting he would be better placed than his closest rival, centrist Benny Gantz, to put together a governing coalition.

Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Giles Elgood

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