Ruling Fatah party fares poorly in Palestinian elections

The 2006 elections saw a relatively high turnout rate, which sat at 77.6 percent and gave Hamas 74 out of 132 seats in the Palestinian parliament.

A Palestinian helps an elderly man at a polling station in the West Bank city of Nablus, Saturday, May 13, 2017.Palestinians choose mayors and local councils in communities across the West Bank, a rare chance to cast ballots after more than a decade without presidential or legislative elections.

The elections were only held in the occupied West Bank, with courts blocking any effort to hold elections including Gaza, which led Hamas not to submit any candidates.

In some towns, Fatah barely garnered a majority of council seats, despite a boycott from its main political rivals, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Elections commission spokesman Fared Tomallah says some 390 councils are being chosen, with 145 of them being contested by multiple candidates.

Official results are expected later Sunday.

Official figures for Saturday's election showed turnout at 53.4 per cent - almost the same as the turnout for local elections in the West Bank in 2012, said electoral commission chief Hanna Nasser in Ramallah.

CEC chairman Hanna Nasser said at a press conference in Ramallah that turnout in the cities was much lower than in the villages.

There haven't been presidential and parliamentary elections since 2005 and Abbas' term has officially long expired.

Organisers of the Red Carpet Human Rights Film Festival, running for the third time since 2015, say the goal is to raise awareness of hardship in the Gaza Strip, home to nearly two million Palestinians. East Jerusalem's 300,000 residents didn't take part in the elections.

Fatah lost in Hebron, notably, the largest city in the West Bank.

Rival lists also looked to the same electorate. In an indication of public sentiment, just 53 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

The impact of the Hamas boycott was visible in Hebron and Al Bireh in the West Bank, said Harb, "because these two cities are known Hamas strongholds".

There are about 5 million Palestinians listed as refugees by the United Nations (UNRWA) who are not permitted to vote in local elections but will be allowed to vote in national elections when they are held.

  • Joey Payne