Both Fatah and Hamas have claimed victory in the second round of local elections, which took place on Thursday.

According to the most recently known results, Fatah
won 54% of the seats in the 84 municipal councils, Hamas won 33% and
the remaining 13% were shared by leftists groups and independent lists.

According to Fatah official Qadora Faris, around 50% of the 400,000 alegable voters voted for Fatah cndidates’ lists.

Hamas’ triumph in Rafah, Qalqilia, and Al-Bureij
refugee camp, the most densly populated localities, led the movement
leader Mahmoud Zahar to claim victory in localities that represents 72%
of all eligible voters.

It is true that Hamas representatives will be
leading municipal services for the largest portion of the population
involved in the Thursday’ elections, yet, and as in most localities,
competing lists won with slight majorities. therefore, it is safe to
conclude that Fatah was choice number one for a slight majority of
Palestinian voters in this round.

Apparently, and after a long period of chaos and
internal conflicts that threatened the future of the Palestinian ruling
movement, Fatah has managed to revive and come back strong, but not
strong enough to continue being the unchallenged leading Palestinian
movement.

Fatah is likely to be forced to prepare for a new
era through which real power sharing with opposition groups at various
levels of decision making is a necessity.

Election results are indicating that no party would
anymore enjoy a comfortable majority in any elected decision making
platform. The times in which Fatah leaders have been making and
implementing decisions have apparently passed.

Yet, Hamas strong showing in local elections doesn’t
necessarily mean a similar showing in political elections. In the later
voters’ choices are expected to be completely different.

Hamas needs to consider that a considerable portion
of the public are concerned that the Islamic movement is only opting
for elections as a way to arrive to power, not as a strategic
choice.   

So far around one third of the public has chosen
Hamas’ affiliates as trusted leaders for running their local daily life
affairs. Hamas has gained such a level of confidence out of running
successful social welfare work parallel to a leading role in resisting
the Israeli occupation.

Yet, voters’ choices are expected to considerably
different in the upcoming political elections. To preserve popularity,
Hamas needs to work to convince the public that the Islamic movement
can as well be a responsible political movement, not only a determined
resistance one.

As much as Fatah and the Palestinian Authority are
working to reform, Hamas leaders, in order to integrate in modernized
election-based political life, need to consider radical reforms in
their structure, political, and ideological programs.

Despite successes in certain localities, leftist groups didn’t
rise up to electorates expectations, and are therefore considered as
the major loser.

Their failure in achieving an acceptable level of
unity, and their inability to present themselves as a ‘third way’ has
marginalized their role in Palestinian public life.

To rise up to the newly election-based political
life, leftists need to work hard to unit and present a ‘third way’ to
the public.

If Palestinian legislators approve Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas’s proposal, which calls for running nation wide
parliamentary elections on the bases of relative representation of
political lists, Palestinian legislative elections could deliver
totally different results.

Political elections would diminish the rule of
traditional family based groups, which has played a decisive role in
the regionally based local councils’ election, therefore would
considerably strengthen the role of political factions.

Voters would have to choose between
different socio-political programs, not individuals, mostly
selected on the bases of clan based representation.

Evidently, Fatah, the ruling movement, and Hamas,
the socially conservative opposition, are the dominant Palestinian
political parties. Leftist groups are still to live the test of
presenting themselves to the public as representing a third way.

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