Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party made
a disappointing showing in yesterday's local elections, with its
chosen candidates failing to secure local majorities in key cities
including Ramallah despite a boycott by its chief rival, Hamas.
This is a landmark of the end of Fatah, says Mahdi Abdul-Hadi,
head of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of
International Affairs (PASSIA).
In the absence of Hamas Fatah could not lead completely as
expected, he says, pointing to the northern city of Nablus where the
official Fatah list got only five of 15 available seats, losing the
rest to Fatah independents. There was no consensus, no leadership
coherence, no commitment for the movement.
The Associated Press cited preliminary results showing Fatah
failed to receive majorities in 5 of 11 major towns.
The results add to mounting concerns about Fatah and the broader
Palestinian leadership losing its legitimacy. PA President Abbas,
who doubles as Fatah chairman, has been unable to secure progress on
a variety of fronts, from peace talks with Israel, to reconciliation
with Hamas, to last year's membership bid at the United Nations, to
an economic crisis that has once again delayed payday for
Palestinian Authority employees all of whom are still waiting to be
paid for September.
Stepping stone to national elections
Municipal elections, the first in at least six years, were seen
as a potential way to boost the PA's credibility and create momentum
for national elections badly needed to restore the Palestinian
legislature after a split five years ago with Hamas, the Islamist
movement that has governed the coastal Gaza Strip ever since.
I think that a lot of people across the political spectrum are
hoping and working to use these elections as a starting point toward
national elections and to pressure Hamas to conform with the will
of the majority of the people to have the national elections as soon
as possible, says Qais Abdul-Karim, a veteran politician and member
of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Mr. Abdul-Karim says overall the elections strengthened the
Palestinian political system, but argues that time is running short
for nationwide elections and that there is growing support among
decisionmakers in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for
holding such elections even if Hamas threatens to boycott them as
In my opinion, the time that we have got is very narrow, he says.
I think that there is an urgent need for the political system to
renovate its legitimacy through [national] elections.
The fact that the municipal elections happened at all was deemed
a success, but the exercise was not as robust as it could have been.
Voting was slated to take place in only 93 of 354 localities,
according to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission; 82
localities were unprepared and were expected to vote in a second
round Nov. …