[Marxism] "the most democratic of any in the Arab world"

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Mon Jan 30 07:06:55 MST 2006

"It was a very well-run election, and it was very clear that it was a  
fair process," Shaheen said yesterday, speaking from her home in  
Madbury. "We were very encouraged by the conduct of the election and  
by the commitment of the Palestinian people to the democratic process."

. . . Shaheen said she and other monitors sensed during the day that  
Hamas might win, because Hamas had a better-organized grassroots  
network than Fatah.

. . . . Despite a high voter turnout and a complicated ballot - some  
738 candidates ran for 132 parliamentary seats - voters proceeded  
smoothly and swiftly through the polls, with few lines,

. . . Of the 132 seats, half were determined by proportional  
representation, with voters choosing by party or organization from a  
national list of 11 parties. For the other 66 seats in the  
parliament, voters elected individual candidates running from their  

. . . The election was more complicated for the Arab residents of  
east Jerusalem. . . . Of about 120,000 eligible Palestinian voters in  
east Jerusalem, Israel allowed about 6,300 to cast ballots in local  
post offices, Shaheen said.

The rest of the eligible Palestinian voters in east Jerusalem had to  
travel to polling stations on the outskirts of the city, a cumbersome  
process delayed by having to navigate the city's security barrier,  
Shaheen said.

"We went to one polling place where if the wall had not been there,  
people living in Jerusalem could've gotten to the polling place in  
about five minutes," Shaheen said. "Because of the wall, because of  
the road blockages, it took 30 minutes."

But the voters that Shaheen spoke to were jubilant about  
participating in the process, she said.

"That was very heartening,” she said. "To see the reactions of the  
average Palestinian voter who was coming out, who was very anxious to  
let the rest of the world know that they were democratic elections  
and they were practicing democracy - I think a number of people have  
called the elections the most democratic of any in the Arab world."

Shaheen said she spoke with a Hamas campaign worker at one of the  
polling places who said he was motivated by the corruption of Fatah,  
not by any message of violence. "He said to me, 'I just want honest  
leaders. I want government to address the concerns that people have.  
And that's why I'm supporting Hamas.' It was very definitely a change  
message that I heard, and I think members of our delegation heard,  
from the people that we talked to," she said.

Now the rest of the world will be watching to see if Hamas moves  
toward moderation and makes good on its campaign promises, Shaheen said.

"The real test will be what happens next," she said.

FULL AT : http://makeashorterlink.com/?P47A25D8C

from Brian Shannon

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