Monday, May 29, 2017

The dismal failure of the Palestinian elections

The report below from a Palestinian newspaper reports on the failure of the democratic system for the Palestinians

Al-Quds News, Ramallah, – Abdul Sattar Kassem  May 18

Not many have noticed, but the Palestinian Authority held municipal elections in Palestine last week. The elections were extremely quiet and managed to fall off the radar screen of most political commentators and major news outlets.

They were marked by very low participation rates, together with Hamas’s refusal to participate in the process altogether. Granted, even if Hamas had chosen to participate, it is likely that the PA’s security agencies, together with Israel, would have detained its nominees in order to prevent them from running for office.

This casts a big doubt on the actual democratic nature of Palestinian elections, whether all Palestinian factions support them or not.

The elections were indisputably a dismal failure, spelling out a worrying future for democracy in Palestine.

First, most Palestinian organizations did not bother competing in the elections. The few that did chose to run under family lists in the large villages. This leads me to my second point: the growing appeal of clan politics.

In the absence of well-defined political organizations, families and clans took the place of political parties.

Palestinians went to the ballots and voted for their representatives on the basis of tribal interests.

This is a dangerous development. Tribal politics will divide the Palestinian public, instead of bringing it together.

It will weaken the Palestinian people in their struggle against the Israeli occupation. Finally, the low participation rates signal that the Palestinian public lost faith in its political leaders and institutions. The public has little, if any, faith in the democratic political process.

These elections should raise a red flag to anyone who cares about the future of Palestine. Their dismal failure marks the disintegration of the Palestinian Authority and, possibly, the beginning of the end. When the people, their representatives, and even their leaders lose faith in the process, the system is left with very little legitimacy to operate. 

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