Background: PA elections

• There are 1,341,671 Palestinians who are entitled to vote. There are 810,636 eligible voters in the West Bank and 531,035 in the Gaza Strip. In Jerusalem there are 431,999 voters. About 5,000-6,000 are expected to vote in the post offices in town. • More than 1,000 polling centers will be available to the Palestinians on election day, 25 January, 2006 with more than 17,000 polling staff present to assist the voters. • There are 132 seats in the Palestinian legislative council (parliament). • The last (and the only) parliamentary elections were held in 1996. Neither Hamas nor the National Front took part in these elections. • The Palestinians are using a mixed election system: every voter will have to put two ballots - one for the regional list with the name of the candidate and the party, and the second one national, with the name of party only. On 18 June 2005, the PLC ratified a new elections law which adopts the mixed electoral system for PLC elections, in contrast to the 1996 general elections which were held in accordance with the system of simple majority. The mixed electoral system combines the majority system (districts) and the system of proportional representation (lists). The law divides the 132 seats of the PLC equally between the majority system (66 seats) and the system of proportional representation (66 seats). The next parliamentary and presidential elections will take place in 4 years. Next time the Palestinians will choose their president and the party in the same polling. • Representatives from 48 organizations from around the world will observe the Palestinian electoral process. • After prolonged discussion, the Israeli government decided to allow the Palestinian citizens of east Jerusalem to take part in the parliamentary elections in the same mode in 2005 as in 1996. The residents of the Old City and the neighboring areas will be able to vote in the post offices in east Jerusalem, whereas the residents of east Jerusalem suburbs will vote directly in their area of residence or nearby suburbs. • According to the poll conducted by Dr. Nabil Kokali, about 38% are about to vote for Fatah, 26% for Hamas and 9.2% for the Independent Palestine list (Dr. Mustafa Barghouti's party). Polls conducted by Hamas predict 40%-45% of the votes for Hamas's Change and Reform list.