The Jerusalem and Right of Return bloc of the Fateh party won the majority of seats in Bethlehem University’s student council elections today.
Fateh won 16 out of 31 seats, while the Hamas party received only eight. This is a similar result to last weeks Al Quds University student elections throughout the West Bank.
The leftist bloc, including the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine, PFLP and DFLP respectively, ran with the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) and won seven seats.
Islamic Jihad barely registered in the ballot counting.
Bethlehem University’s Dean of Student Affairs and the Director of the Elections Supervising Committee announced the results Wednesday evening. Fateh won 820 votes, Hamas earned 399 votes, the Leftists received 394 votes, while Islamic Jihad got only 46.
Eighty percent of students participated in the elections, a similar number to that of the presidential elections throughout Palestine which is known for its high voter turn-out.
In accordance with the results, Fateh need not form a real coalition student council if they do not wish to do so. But negotiations are in order. Fateh’s come as the US-led economic blockade against the Palestinian people continues as a form of punishment for voting Hamas into the national government.
The Fateh Youth, also known as Shabiba, say that the victory proves that the Palestinian people have not, nor will they ever, renounce their national struggle for freedom and independence.
Just after the declaration of the results gunmen belonging to the Fateh movement shot into the air in celebration while hundreds of people poured from the Bethlehem University campus and into the streets.
The elections were announced free and fair with ballot boxes open from 8:00 am through 4:00 pm. No foul play was reported and by all accounts the voting process remained under control in a calm and dignified atmosphere.
An official in the Hamas student bloc confirmed that the elections were fair in general, but criticized what he described as “the intervention of Palestinian security institutions in the elections, which is considered a violation of the democratic process.”