Hamas seeks more power in upcoming elections

Last week Hamas declared free municipal elections in the Gaza Strip, to coincide with the next round of municipal elections in the PA, scheduled for October 8.

January 25, 2006 was the last time Gazans voted for their ruling government. The Hamas movement emerged victorious, with Ismail Haniyeh nominated as prime minister.

Hamas attempted to establish a national unity government with Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, which collapsed shortly after, when Hamas violently removed Fatah from Gaza.

Things remained the same for a decade, through three violent confrontations with Israel, until last week Hamas declared free municipal elections in the Gaza Strip, to coincide with the next round of municipal elections in the PA, scheduled for October 8.

Hamas says it is planning to run a national slate made up of technocrats. Representatives of different parties in Gaza swore an oath last week to abide by the elections rules and to respect the candidates and the deals that they make, and most important, abide by the election results and by the decisions of the central elections committee.

The last time the PA held municipal elections was in 2012.

A PA delegation recently met with Haniyeh to discuss extending the municipal vote to the Gaza Strip as well.

According to Israel’s Ynet news, the reason Hamas may be prepared to open up the Gaza municipalities to PLO representatives is that Hamas is hoping to capitalize on its popularity in the PA, where the public has had enough of the corrupt PLO leadership. Hamas has won the student union elections in key PA universities such as Bir Zeit and the Hebron Politechnic. The Hamas leadership is convinced they have the momentum in the PA, and the municipal elections could serve as their trial balloon. Their objective is for the PA to be forced to declare national elections, in which the chances are high that a Hamas candidate will win the Chairmanship.

Voter registration opened on Saturday. Eligible voters will have five days to join the reported 2 million voters who have already registered, constituting, according to the Palestinian Authority Central Elections Commission (PACEC), 78.5% of the eligible voters in Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem, and in Gaza.

In 2006, there were 1,341,671 registered voters and 1,042,424 votes cast, according the PACEC.

In 2013, voter registration the PA jumped by 300,000 voters in the span of around 6 months. The massive influx of newly registered voters almost exclusively originated from Gaza.

By: JNI.Media and World Israel News Staff