Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at a Fatah conference in Ramallah in 2009..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Central Elections Commission officially announced on Tuesday that Fatah has won 136 municipal elections where factions and independents submitted consensus lists, giving President Mahmoud Abbas’s party a commanding lead ahead of the rest of the municipal elections set to take place on October 8 in the West Bank and Gaza.
Last week, the CEC revealed that 182 of the 416 locales, largely from rural parts of the West Bank, submitted consensus lists, meaning an automatic victory for those lists.
“182 lists [automatically] won including 136 Fatah lists, 23 independent lists, 22 multi-party lists, and one PFLP list,” a CEC statement read.
Elections will still take place in 196 other locales including many major cities such as Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron and Gaza City, where Palestinian factions and independents turned in multiple lists. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority will either host “completion” elections, appoint municipal councils, or allow current councils to continue their work for 38 locales that failed to submit a single list.
Despite the apparently early victory for Fatah, Jihad Harb, a researcher and analyst of Palestinian politics, told The Jerusalem Post that Fatah cannot declare itself the dominant force in the Palestinian arena.
“The majority of the consensus lists Fatah won are in small villages and encampments,” he said. “The real competition is in the cities, where many people live and multiple lists will compete against each other. We need to wait until after those elections take place to evaluate the influence of the different factions in Palestinian society,” he remarked.
Moreover, Harb added that he finds the system that allows for the automatic victory of consensus lists very problematic. “These automatic victories are a major setback for Palestinian democracy because they do not afford residents their right to vote and participate in the electoral process,” he said. “Instead a smaller group of factional elites decide who will serve on the municipal councils.”
The municipal elections mark the first time that both Hamas and Fatah will participate in elections on the national level since the 2006 parliamentary elections.