The Palestinian electoral system

In January 2005, a borderless Palestine held it’s second democratic presidential and parliamentary elections, voting in Mahmud Abbas as president for a five year term.

Palestinians have held two general elections since 1996
Palestinians have held two general elections since 1996

The head of state was elected by a simple majority, from a list of candidates who had registered to run.

Abbas’s Palestinian National Liberation Movement, otherwise known as the Fatah party, won most seats across Palestine.

Election format origins

The 2005 election format was based on the first general elections organised by the Palestinian National Authority (PA) held in 1996 – when Yasser Arafat was elected President – and was derived from the framework of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords of 1993. 

The 1995 Palestinian election law established guidelines for all Palestinians, 18 or older and living in the West Bank or Gaza, regardless of religion, on the rights to voting.

Since January’s election’s, which ushered in a new era in Palestinian politics, the next stage has been set for municipal and legislative (parlimentary) elections, in cities and town councils across the West Bank and Gaza, increasing democratic representation at the local level.

Last month, Hamas, the leading Islamic resistance group, won a large proportion of seats in the municipal elections, especially in Gaza.

Hamas popularity

The group, better known for its armed attacks against the Israeli occupation has increased its political responsibilties to Palestinian’s, winning popular votes and tying in with their well known civic, charitable work on hospitals, schools and orphanages.

The Palestinian Legislative Council has been the Parliament of Palestine since 1996. 

Its members, elected by districts, has traditionally held a certain number of seats which have gone to top vote-getters -here, the ruling Fatah party has maintained its dominance- except in a few districts, where seats have been guaranteed to Christians and women.

In 1996, Hamas boycotted the parliamentary elections, accusing the PA of corruption amongst other allegations. 

Other parties

After their success at the municipal elections last month, they recently announced their intention to participate in July’s ballots.

Since January’s election’s, the Parliament has consisted of nearly 100 members, with two-thirds of the seats dominated by Abbas’s Fatah party.

According to the most recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, the most popular parties following Fatah and Hamas have been Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

All three refused to participate in the 1996 elections and had limited exposure in the 2005 one. Since the previous Hamas boycott of 1996, the non-Fatah seats in Parliament have been held largely by independents.

Source : Al Jazeera

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