Will Abbas Hold Palestinian Elections?
Palestinians recently marked the 16th anniversary of their second presidential election. General elections have not been held since 2005 when Mahmoud Abbas won his second term as president. His four-year term ended in 2009. Yet 16 years later, he still remains in power. Abbas promised the United Nations that Palestinians would hold a general election, but polling data shows 66% of Palestinians want him gone.
Yasser Arafat was the original leader of the PLO, the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Once he passed, Mahmoud Abbas became the president of the Palestinian Authority, which is what it ultimately turned into. He held his first election and won, and then won again in 2005, which was the last election to be held. Palestinians have not been able to hold another presidential election, mainly due to the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip resulting from the dispute between Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas. It’s not democracy when your president refuses to step down. However, there’s a bit of a twist. The alternative is that Abbas could lose to a Hamas leader. Hamas won a major victory in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections. So with so many Palestinians wanting Abbas out and Hamas is his opponent, we could see potentially a more radical Palestinian government.
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