Mike the Mad Biologist

We Didn’t Create Hamas, But We Did…

…help them win the election. Over at Thoughts from Kansas, ScienceBlogling Josh has a post about who and what are responsible for the current civil war in the West Bank and Gaza. In any discussion of the Middle East, all sorts of things will be claimed, but there is one awful historical fact: American and Israeli pressure on the Palestinian Authority to change their electoral system helped Hamas win the 2006 elections.

The original electoral system that Palestinians had was completely proportional. If a party won forty percent of the votes, it received forty percent of the seats in parliament. The party that received a plurailty (if none received a majority) would be invited to form a governmen; if it failed, then the next largest party would get a chance to form a coalition, and so on. It was just like the Israeli system (funny, that). Before the last election, there was considerable pressure brought to bear on the Palestinian Authority to change its system.

Under the new system, half of the seats would be proportional, and half would be district-based. The idea was that Hamas might win a popular vote (or at least achieve a plurality), but Fatah would be far more organized and pick up most of the district-based seats. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. Hamas received 44.45% of the vote, while Fatah received 41.43% of the vote. When you look at how the other parties did, it’s not clear that Hamas would have been able to form a coalition (the PFLP and Hamas aren’t exactly ideological soulmates), particularly with Fatah waiting in the wings.

However, Hamas cleaned up in the district-based voting, turning what would have been under the old system a two seat plurality into an unassailable eight seat majority in the new system (Hamas won almost 70% of the district-based seats).

Oops. Or to put this another way, the majority of Palestinians didn’t vote for Hamas.

Comments

  1. #1 Coin
    June 21, 2007

    Stupid, stupid electoral college.

  2. #2 Josh Rosenau
    June 21, 2007

    Coin, you beat me to it.

    Mike, no link?

  3. #3 Joshua
    June 22, 2007

    So basically 2006 saw the Republicans completely fail to rig not just one but two elections. And Karl Rove is considered an electoral genius why?

  4. #4 Abey
    June 22, 2007

    “Before the last election, there was considerable pressure brought to bear on the Palestinian Authority to change its system.”

    Pressure by whom? Joshua blames the Bush administration, but is that the case?

  5. #5 Abey
    June 22, 2007

    “American and Israeli pressure on the Palestinian Authority to change their electoral system helped Hamas win the 2006 elections.”

    Oops, it helps if I read instead of skim the article. :-( Some references would be good though.

  6. #6 SLC
    June 22, 2007

    1. Mr. Mike is obviously ignorant of the fact that the reason that the Fatah candidates lost in many of the constituency based districts is that they had more then one candidate running which split the pro-Fatah vote and allowed the Hamas candidate to win with a plurality.

    2. One of the reasons that the PA adopted the mixed system is their observation of the total failure of the party list system in Israel to produce functioning governments. For Mr. Mikes’ information, the party list system in Israel is a total disaster as it leads to a Knesset which is unanswerable to the voting public. In a constituency based system (such as the US House of Representatives and all state legislatures), a representative is answerable to the voters in his district, not to party bosses which is the case in Israel. Even the US Senate is more representative then the Knesset because Senators are answerable to the voters in their state.

  7. #7 şişme bebek
    June 11, 2009

    American and Israeli pressure on the Palestinian Authority to change their electoral system helped Hamas win the 2006 elections.”

    Oops, it helps if I read instead of skim the article. :-( Some references would be good though.