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(09/18/07) -

Palestinians Support Electoral Reforms

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Most people in the Palestinian Territories are in favour of a recent presidential decree to amend electoral laws, according to a poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. 58 per cent of respondents support the changes, which allow for the implementation of a proportional representation system.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Most people in the Palestinian Territories are in favour of a recent presidential decree to amend electoral laws, according to a poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. 58 per cent of respondents support the changes, which allow for the implementation of a proportional representation system.

The measure will also merge the Gaza Strip and the West Bank into one electoral district, and guarantee that the distribution of seats reflects the percentage of the popular vote received by each political organization in the entire Palestinian Territories.

Fatah member Mahmoud Abbas won the January 2005 presidential ballot with 62.32 per cent of all cast ballots. In January 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council election, securing 74 of the 112 seats at stake. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh officially took over as prime minister in March. The Israeli government believes Hamas is directly responsible for the deaths of 377 citizens in a variety of attacks, which include dozens of suicide bombings.

In February, Hamas and Fatah leaders reached an accord which set the guidelines for a power-sharing Palestinian administration, headed by Hamas, which would "respect" past peace agreements with Israel. In June, amid a wave of violent clashes between Palestinian supporters of the Hamas and Fatah factions, Hamas militants seized control of Gaza. Abbas issued a decree to form a 12-member emergency government—based in the West Bank—and expelled Hamas from the administration.

On Sept. 2, Abbas issued the decree to amend electoral laws. The new rules replace legislation passed in 2005, which called for 66 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council to be elected in single-seat constituencies, with the remaining 66 members chosen through proportional representation party lists. Fatah members have blamed the previous system for the outcome of last year’s legislative ballot, won by Hamas. International observers said the January 2006 ballot was free and fair.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum deemed the reforms "illegal" and said they aim "at depriving the Hamas movement from joining any future legislative elections."

Polling Data

Do you support or oppose the recent presidential decree regarding the amendment to the electoral system, which seeks to implement a system based on proportional representation with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip becoming one electoral district and with the distribution of seats reflecting the percentage of popular vote received in the whole country?

Support

58%

Oppose

34%

Not sure

8%

Source: Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research
Methodology: Face-to-face interviews to 1,270 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, conducted from Sept. 6 to Sept. 8, 2007. Margin of error is 3 per cent.