Fatah Wins Palestine Vote After All

While there were indications that Hamas would oust the longtime leaders of the Palestinian movement, it appears that Fatah won a plurality in today’s parliamentary elections.

Amid tight security and a sea of green and yellow flags, Palestinians turned out in record numbers Wednesday for their first parliamentary election in a decade and exit polls projected that the ruling Fatah Party would win the most seats, but showed that Islamic militants made a strong showing. Voter turnout in the historic balloting was 77.7 percent of 1.3 million eligible voters, the Central Election Commission said. In the 1996 parliamentary election, turnout was about 75 percent.

One exit poll said the ruling Fatah Party captured 42 percent of the vote and the Islamic militant group Hamas finished a strong second, with 35 percent. The poll was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Public Opinion. Another exit poll by Bir Zeit University showed Fatah with 46.4 percent of the vote, with Hamas winning 39.5 percent. This would translate into 63 seats for Fatah and 58 for Hamas in the 132-seat Palestinian legislature, pollsters said. A total of 8,000 voters in 232 polling stations were surveyed for the exit poll, which had a one-seat margin of error.

Presuming these exit polls hold up–and we all know that there are serious limitations to them as short term forecasting tools even in open societies–it gives Fatah yet another opportunity to show that they can actually govern a quasi-state. I have no reason to believe they will do any better than they have in the past.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Yes, Fatah “won” the “Palestinian” “vote”.