17 Reasons to Hold Elections

Holding elections is required in order to create a balance in the Palestinian political system and to provide an opportunity for democratization.

Written by: Jihad Harb

The holding of Palestinian elections, especially ten years after the end of the term of the Palestinian President and the Palestinian Legislative Council, has become a fundamental requirement in order to build a democratic system based on the principle of separation of powers and its implementation, in accordance with the provisions of the Palestinian Basic Law. Also, holding elections is required in order to create a balance in the Palestinian political system and to provide an opportunity for democratization within reasonable and acceptable constitutional procedures to the Palestinian people, in the event that the position of the president becomes vacant. It is also necessary in order to activate peremptory constitutional rules in the Palestinian Basic Law, such as Article 26 (3), which imposes the right of citizens to choose “representatives elected through universal suffrage” to exercise governance, Article 2, which states: “the people are the source of power, which shall be exercised through the legislative, executive and judicial authorities, based upon the principle of separation of powers and in the manner set forth in this Basic Law” and Article 5, which states: “the President of the National Authority shall be directly elected by the people.”

Moreover, holding elections has also become a necessity in order to end the division, after the failure of the multiple agreements concluded between Fatah and Hamas, to allow for more discussion in the elected Legislative Council, to localize and institutionalize the Palestinian dialogue under the parliament and to unify the governing institutions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which are the institutions of the future state. Holding elections seeks to facilitate political dialogues between political forces related to restoring unity in order to adopt a unified political strategy, which combat the acceleration of the US and Israel’s plans.  It is also a response to the Palestinian popular demand, of which they desire to hold elections and participate in them. According to the results of the public opinion poll no. (71), conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in March 2019, a vast majority of 72% of the Palestinian public wants to hold general elections, where 83% of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip support holding elections, compared to 65% in the West Bank.  According to the results of the public opinion poll no. (77), conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in September 2020, 61% of the Palestinian public would participate in legislative elections if they take place.

Elections are a mechanism for reforming the institutional structures of government; however, the absence of a legislative body is further complicating its implementation. All restructuring measures are restoration attempts to limit the power of the executive authority, to hold political institutions accountable, to protect the judiciary from interference,to expand guarantees of public freedoms and human rights and to strengthen the independence and pluralism of civil society.

If elections are held, it would preserve the legitimacy of the Palestinian political system and confer popular legitimacy on the Palestinian leadership chosen by the Palestinian people, thus prohibiting any foreign interference, declared or undeclared, in the demarcation of the leadership of the Palestinian people. It will also come as a response to the international pledge that the Palestinians took, following the announcement of the President in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September of last year.

There is no doubt that holding elections, a constitutional right, comes as a solution to the political dilemma that the Palestinian people are experiencing today, resulting from the erosion of the legitimacy of the institutions of the Palestinian political system, and a gateway to end the division by restoring the Palestinians’ right to choose their future through freely voting. This requires the creation of an incubator for consensual elections which guarantee their fairness and freedom on the and ensure national partnership that enables Palestinians to bear burdens and enjoy benefits.

The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Association or donor.

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