Rul­ing Fatah Party faces harsh real­ity check in West Bank mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions

The Daily News Egypt - - Politics -

DW—Af­ter the Is­lamic Ha­mas move­ment con­firmed it would boy­cott the vote,Satur­day’smu­nic­i­pal elec­tions across theWest Bank were al­ways go­ing to serve as a lit­mus test for Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas and his Fatah Party’s pop­u­lar­ity.

Al­though it won eas­ily,the Fatah Party’s poor show­ing as re­sults were re­leased on Sun­day re­flected pub­lic dis­con­tent to­wards Ab­bas.The West Bank has for years been marred by a weak econ­omy, while Ab­bas has al­legedly al­lowed nepo­tism to flour­ish within his party’s ranks and failed to move the Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries any closer to in­de­pen­dence af­ter more than 10 years at the helm.

Al­though Satur­day’s vote was the first leg­isla­tive elec­tion in theWest Bank in over a decade, turnout was low, with just 53 per­cent of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers cast­ing their bal­lots.

Fatah only man­aged clear vic­to­ries in two ma­jor cities: Jenin and Jeri­cho. In He­bron,theWest Bank’s largest city and a Ha­mas strong­hold,Ab­bas’ party man­aged to claim seven of 15 seats.

“The re­sult wasn’t great for us,” Tay­seer Abu Sneineh, the head of Fatah’s list in the city, told the As­so­ci­ated Press.

The rul­ing party man­aged to win 11 of 15 seats in Nablus,another ma­jor city, but only af­ter form­ing al­liances with Is­lamist can­di­dates.Turnout there was just 21 per­cent.

Divided gov­ern­ments Pales­tine’s two ter­ri­to­ries have re­mained po­lit­i­cally divided since Ha­mas de­feated Fatah in the 2006 leg­isla­tive elec­tions in the Gaza Strip. Fatah was sub­se­quently driven out of the area,leav­ing Ab­bas in con­trol of just the Pales­tinian Author­ity au­ton­omy govern­ment in parts of theWest Bank.

Sev­eral at­tempts to rec­on­cile have fallen short, and each party has been al­lowed to ef­fec­tively rule its ter­ri­tory autonomously since.

Last year,the two par­ties were poised to com­pete in elec­tions in both theWest Bank and Gaza Strip,be­fore each side dis­qual­i­fied the other’s can­di­date. Elec­tions in Gaza were post­poned and Fatah went ahead and ran un­op­posed in a bid to re­new its le­git­i­macy.

Fol­low­ing Satur­day’s vote, Pales­tinian Cen­tral Elec­tions Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Hanna Nasser said he would try to per­suade Ha­mas to al­low elec­tions in all of Gaza’s 25 lo­cal­i­ties later this year.

“The com­mis­sion will meet with Ha­mas in Gaza to see if we can hold sup­ple­men­tary elec­tions there so that we would have elec­tions in all parts of the coun­try,” he said.

Fatah only man­aged clear vic­to­ries in two ma­jor cities: Jenin and Jeri­cho

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