AMMAN: The second round of Palestinian local elections has brought little sign of a clear political direction, leading analysts told Arab News.
Palestinians went to the polls in major cities across the West Bank on Saturday after the first round of municipal voting was held in early December.
About 52 percent of those eligible voted, according to Hanna Nasser, head of the Palestinian Central Election Commission.
Rana Abu Farah, who anchored numerous election debates for the Ma’an TV network, said that Fatah is claiming to have won 60 percent of the seats in major cities.
“But the results should not be considered an indication of their success because of the low turnout, and the absence of any sign of when legislative and presidential elections will take place.”
At least one analyst blamed the low voter turnout on Palestinians’ frustration at the lack of political vision on offer.
Ali Jarbawi, a political science professor at Bir Zeit University, said: “People don’t see any positive value in participating and the political factions are experiencing weakness.”
Political factions, including Fatah, are now jumping on the tribal bandwagon and naming candidates with a tribal base, he added.
Palestinian general legislative and presidential elections were canceled in April 2021, and there is no sign when they will take place.
Leading Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki told Arab News that presidential elections will take place only when President Mahmoud Abbas decides to leave office. “There is no doubt that Abbas will lose if elections are held,” Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, said.
Ghassan Andoni, an academic who ran on an independent list for the Beit Sahour council, said that the local elections highlighted the political diversity in Palestine.
“The elections reflect a wide political map, but in the absence of real competition, Fatah does better.” Andoni said he believes that parliamentary and presidential elections are still far away.
“The new councils will undoubtedly play an important role in the near future due to the political and financial weakness of the Palestinian Authority,” he said.
Former Palestinian Cabinet minister Ziad Abu Zayyad criticized the “tribal atmosphere” that predominated in the local elections.
“People young and old came out to support their relatives and tribes,” he said.
Abu Zayyad argues that Palestinians have failed to install a democratic culture “because democracy is not only about voting booths — democracy is a way of life.”
He added: “We have also failed to build political life and a political system that believes in pluralism, and is guaranteed by the constitution and the rule of law.”