As the local government elections in Bethlehem area
nears, the final number of candidates reached 413 competing on 118
seats, among which 67 women.

Firas Yaghi, director bureau of the local governments’ election
committee said there is a great presence for women in these elections,
nation wide.  He added that this is a very positive unprecedented
sign.

Unlike the Gaza Strip, the completion in Bethlehem area elections is
not between Hamas and Fattah.  There are at least four additional
factions competing.

The Palestinian Front for the liberation of Palestine, PFLP, the
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, DFLP, the Palestinian
People’s Party and the Palestinian Democratic Union, FIDA, who split
from the DFLP few years ago.

The elections are not guided by political parties, but families as
well.  The families’ effect is even stronger in forming coalition
in most of the cases.  The political faction must take family
distribution into consideration when forming a coalition and naming
candidates.

The last local government elections in Bethlehem area, and most of the
Palestinian areas, took place in 1976.  Israel did not allow
elections after that.  Israeli military administration in the
occupied territories fired some Mayors and appointed others, who are
ready to cooperate with them.

Areas that called for elections where threatened to assign a military commander as mayor.

In past elections, the main candidates were also selected by both
families and political parties; therefore, Mayor will be from one
family and change in the next round so that all families will have a
chance to have one of their family members a Mayor.

In the year 2000, the Palestinian Authority assigned new Mayors in most
of the Palestinian towns and villages. The PA took into consideration,
the political and family distribution in selecting the new municipal
councils. 

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