Palestinians head to vote for first time in 6 years

PA President emphasizes legacy of democracy as over 50,000 Palestinians entitled to elect mayors, heads of village councils.

By
October 20, 2012 14:20
3 minute read.
President Abbas shows ink-stained finger

PA President Abbas votes 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

For the first time since 2005, Palestinians in the West Bank on Saturday headed to the polling polls to elect mayors and heads of village councils.

Palestinian Authority President and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas emphasized a legacy of democracy as he voted in downtown Ramallah.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


"We hope we will be regarded by our brothers in Gaza and everywhere in the Arab world as the ones who first embarked upon democracy, and we continue on this path and we hope everyone will follow us," he told journalists.

The vote is being boycotted by Hamas, which has also banned local elections in the Gaza Strip.

"We do not recognize the legitimacy of these elections and we call for them to be stopped in order to protect the Palestinian people and protect their unity," Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said.

Haniyeh, who took office when Hamas won a surprise majority in a parliamentary vote in 2006 - an outcome nullified by the civil war that followed a year later, decried the latest poll as "unilateral elections removed from a national consensus."

More than 500,000 Palestinians are entitled to vote in the West Bank elections.



However, expectations are that turnout would be very low as many Palestinians have in the past few weeks displayed indifference toward the elections.

With Gaza not participating in Saturday's vote and a majority of West Bank residents living in areas where local councils are running uncontested, the election was less meaningful than in previous years.

Less than half of citizens surveyed by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research said they would vote, and an even smaller number thought the ballot would be fair.

About 2,000 local and foreign monitors have been assigned to supervise the elections.

Fatah candidates are expected to score a landslide victory as they don't seem to face serious contenders. Some local leaders struck out on their own after being spurned from official lists in a sign of personal disputes. They may garner a showing giving them an influential say in local councils.

Cars decked with Fatah and Palestinian flags blaring nationalist anthems made noisy rounds among Bethlehem's polling centers, and candidates hoping to win last-minute support greeted and chatted with voters.

"I heard that the Fatah bloc was made up of good people, so I voted for them," said Amani, 29, who declined to give her last name, drying with tissue her index finger dipped in the indelible purple ink of the voting stations.

"I think in the end all parties have their own political and financial interest in mind. But it is my duty to vote, and so I can say that I've done my part," she said.

The Authority faces deepening challenges to its legitimacy. An addiction to foreign economic aid has opened up a financial crisis that exploded into street protests in cities up and down the West Bank last month.

An aggressive campaign to root out corrupt and insubordinate security officers within Fatah's own cadres this year has further narrowed the ruling clique.

But as economic problems worsen amid the standstill of Palestinians' broader political landscape, many hail the vote as an opportunity to renew institutions and focus on development at the grassroots level.

"Of course, there are positive signs in these elections," the Palestinian al-Quds newspaper wrote in an editorial. "The local authorities have an important role in public services and providing an administration for citizens."

Final results are expected to be announced Sunday.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Related Content

cannabis weed marijuana medical plant pot joint
July 18, 2018
Lebanon to consider legalizing cannabis growing

By REUTERS