Palestine and the Palestinians in the 21st Century

By Rochelle Davis; Mimi Kirk | Go to book overview

4. Palestinians Following
the 2006 Legislative Election
A Critical Election?

ASAD GHANEM

Elections and change of government are part of the democratic process. Following every democratic election, a government continues its performance as the executive branch or is changed. Such a change is a reflection of the changing preferences of the people, the collective of citizens. The change can be reflected in two ways. The first, in which the new government continues the policies of the previous one, is common and can be considered regular or gradual change, with minor alterations that reflect the guiding principles of the new ruling party or parties or the personal preferences of the newly elected leaders. These elections can be classified as “regular elections.”

The second mode of change, in which a deep and fundamental change occurs in the agenda or the political, economic, or social situation of the state or in its international status, is “critical elections.”1 Such critical elections occurred in the United States in 1860, after which the Civil War started around the question of the future of the union. Such elections also occurred in Germany in 1933, when the National Party and Hitler took power democratically and promoted a revolutionary change in German internal and external policies. Another example is the South African elections of 1989, which signaled the end of the apartheid regime. Smooha and Peretz consider the 1992 Israeli elections as critical elections, in that following those elections Israel entered a new phase in its relationship with the PLO.2

The second Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 were also critical elections, in that the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) won with a

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