The Hamas Victory in the Palestinian Elections

Riaz Hassan

The parliamentary election triumph of Hamas surprised almost everybody, including the Hamas leadership, if the press reported correctly. The Bush Administration is blaming its intelligence services for failing to predict Hamas’ victory. Most observers forecast that Fatah would win theelections because of its political dominance in Palestinian affairs. Why, then, did most politicalobservers in the West get it so wrong? This political miscalculation will be the subject of much analysis and commentary in the coming months.A number of specific local issues delivered Hamas its historic electoral victory. Credit must goto the Palestinian people, who turned out to be astute voters. A significant number of Palestinians were simply unable to accept the corruption and cronyism that allegedly flourished under the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah. While most Palestinians remember well and admire the sacrifices made by Fatah leaders in the past, they were simply deterred by their in ability to institute political and economic reforms to better the lives of ordinary people. Hamashad a much better reading of the Palestinian political pulse. It was not difficult for Hamas to doso: Hamas delivers health, educational and social services to large numbers of Palestinians,making daily life bearable.Unlike Fatah, which had several candidates contesting the same constituency, resulting in asplitting of Fatah’s votes, Hamas ran an extremely disciplined political campaign. Hamas alsomade use of its female supporters, sending them door-to-door to canvass voters and to pollingstations to campaign for Hamas’ candidates. These election strategies obviously worked in Hamas’ favor. Hamas has also amassed political capital through its resistance and military campaigns against the Israeli occupation. It was these actions which led to Hamas’ being labelled and treated as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union andseveral other western countries. In a political environment in which ordinary Palestinians feelcompletely powerless, Hamas’ acts of resistance and tough rhetoric gave Palestinians a senseof empowerment that may well be the reason for its electoral victory over its opponents.

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