West Bank Palestinians take to the polls for local elections

Voter turnout, particularly in major cities, was dismally low, with Nablus barely over 20% turnout, and others all well under 50%, though Fatah insisted it was no worse than 2012.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party was ahead in most of the West Bank's main cities after municipal elections, results showed Sunday.

Hanna Nasser, head of elections commission, called on all citizens who have the right to vote to cast their votes in their local elections, which opened at 7:00 A.M. until 7:00 P.M.

"The election doesn't carry an enormous amount of weight", Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from Ramallah in the West Bank, said.

The Palestinians have been divided between rival governments since Hamas defeated Fatah in the 2006 legislative elections and drove the latter out of the Gaza Strip the following year, leaving Abbas in control only of the Palestinian Authority autonomy government in parts of the West Bank.

Both Fatah and Hamas were supposed to compete in elections a year ago in both the West Bank and Gaza.

They also come more than 10 years after Hamas won the majority of seats in the parliament, which left the worldwide community to deal with the implications of a Palestinian nationalist and Islamist movement finding its feet within the mainstream Palestinian political machine.




Last year, the two parties were poised to compete in elections in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, before each side disqualified the other's candidate.

There are about 2.2 million Palestinians in the West Bank.

Even then Fatah only managed convincing wins in a couple of cities, Jenin and Jericho, struggling to even field a list in a lot of cities and having to run joint lists with independents to try to get on the ballot. East Jerusalem's 300,000 residents didn't take part in the elections.

However, turnout was far lower in large cities than in surrounding communities, with the lowest in Nablus, the main city in the northern West Bank, where it was less than 21 percent.

Rival lists also looked to the same electorate.

Senwar's election symbolized the rise of the military wing's influence over Hamas' political branch and its decision-making process. Nearly 50% of eligible voters turned out on Saturday.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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