According to a poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 54% of Palestinians are “dissatisfied with the overall performance of the Hamas government and 42% are satisfied.” “The public exhibits a total consensus (84%) that the situation of the Palestinians today is bad or very bad.” Yet, “the percentage of those who say that they would vote for [Hamas] if new elections are held today remains essentially unchanged, standing at 38% compared to 39% three months ago.” *
Given that, in the party-preference portion of the legislative election in the Palestinian territories in January, Hamas obtained under 45% of the vote, these results show remarkably stable support for the party in a context of overall dissatisfaction. Obviously, Palestinians are not holding their ruling party responsible for their condition. One need not look too far to see why: “a majority (67%) does not think that Hamas should accept the demand of the donor community to recognize Israel and only 30% believe it should.”
The poll also shows support for Fatah at 41%, which is almost precisely what it obtained in the election. Support for President Mahmoud Abbas stands at 55%, essentially unchanged over the past three months.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government has not fared so well in public opinion. A poll by by Yedioth Ahronoth and the Dahaf Institute shows only 7% (yes, seven percent) of Israelis support Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as “as the right person to lead them.” The highest ranking Israeli politicians in this survey are as follows:
Current Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Amir Peretz comes in at 1% (yes, one percent).**
* The poll was conducted in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during September 14-16, 2006. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%.
** The survey findings are based on the responses of 499 people out of a representative sample of the adult population in Israel, and they will be published in full by Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday. The maximal sampling error is 4.5 percent.
The JPost, citing Al-Jazeera, reports that the Hamas government of Palestine is prepared to recognize Israel within the 1967 borders.
May it be so.
It is worth noting that the 1967 borders would mean many more settlements dismantled by Israel than in the Kadima plan.* But that plan was predicated on unilateral moves by Israel in the presumed absence of any movement on the Palestinian side. If Hamas really is about to make this announcement, one might actually dare to be optimistic.
According to a poll carried out by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah and reported in today’s Jerusalem Post, 66% of Palestinians would support recognition of Israel “during an era of peace with an existing Palestinian State.”
However, currently, nearly 60% oppose recognition of Israel. (And it is the latter finding that forms the basis of the JPost headline; I chose to emphasize the more optimistic, albeit conditional and hypothetical, finding.)
The full story contains other results, including polling within Israel about settlement evacuation and attitudes towards Hamas.
The NYT finally notices.* They cite the analysis of “Jarrett Blanc, the American elections expert” (and who works with IFES, a fine organization):
The lesson is that the way a new election law turns votes into representatives â€” the fine print of election laws â€” can have as much of an impact on who will be running a country as an occupying army.
That observation has implications far beyond the Palestinian vote, particularly for countries like the United States and other Western nations that seek to promote new democracies.
Uh, yeah. That pretty much sums up the mission of the V side of F&V. The article is oriented primarily around the Hamas “landslide” and makes points about so-called bloc voting (MNTV) that legions of regular readers of F&V have known since before the election. (If you missed it, just click on “Palestine” at the top of this post, then scroll down and have fun!)
* A full week after I said precisely the same thing about the Jerusalem Post. Somtimes, even in the 21st century, news travels slowly.
Thanks to Wilfred Day (in the comments to my previous post on the Hamas sweep of many districts) for pointing out that the Jerusalem Post finally noted that it was the electoral system, not the voters, that gave Hamas its “landslide” and how a proportional system would have made a tremendous difference. (Emphasis mine)
PART OF the post-election discussions concentrated on the election law, in which 50% were elected proportionally and 50% from local districts. A polling expert speaking at the Ramallah conference said that a number of Fatah candidates should be given a medal by Hamas for rejecting Mahmoud Abbasâ€™s desire for a 100% proportional representation system. If that was the law of the elections Hamas might have gotten a few more seats than Fatah, but overall Fatah and its independent and left-wing coalition partners could easily have formed a majority government.
A change in the election format would have resolved a major problem for Fatah. Having so many Fatah candidates run as independents (because they were not chosen to be on the official roster) meant that thousands of votes for the district seats were wasted. In Jerusalem, Bilal Natashe, a Fatah leader, told me that the lost votes amounted to a total of 37,000 – more than enough to have resulted in all Fatah candidates to win. In Bethlehem Fatah received more votes on the national lists, but still lost all their district seats except those earmarked as part of the Christian quota. . .
The extent to which the electoral system distorted the results of last week’s Palestinian legislative elections becomes all the more clear when the analysis is conducted at the district level, with the full votes for losing as well as winning candidates. The complete data also make it clear how much stronger the cohesion of Hamas voters was than was the case for Fatah voters (as I suggested prior to the election that it would be), and how dependent Fatah was on the personal vote of some of its individual candidates to win as many seats as it did.
First of all, consider the distribution of party pluralities across the districts. Using the list vote, Hamas led in eight districts and Fatah in eight. The districts vary in their magnitudes (i.e. the number of seats they elect). The eight districts in which Hamas led elect 39 of the 60 nominal-tier seats, and the districts in which Fatah led combine for 21. So, Hamas did better in the more populated districts, as would be expected from its lead in the national tier in which the list-PR seats were allocated. But the extent to which Fatah was hurt by the specific electoral system used in the local districts is striking. In two districts where Fatah had the most list votes, it managed to elect no candidates, and in two others where it led in list votes it elected fewer candidates than Hamas.
Here are the vote and seat totals in the districts in which Hamas led. Both votes percentages and seats are given as Hamas/Fatah:
(The starred districts are those in which the party that led the party list votes did not win the most seats.)
Notice that Hamas beat Fatah 35-1 in seats in the districts in which it led in the party vote, while Fatah managed only a 10-10 split of the seats in the districts where it was the leading party (other seats were won by independents).
The reason a party could run ahead of its competition in the list vote, yet fail to lead in the seat allocation lies, of course, in ticket splitting, whereby some voters give their party-list vote to one party, but cast some or all of their candidate votes for candidates of other parties (or independents).
We can analyze this phenomenon more closely by looking into the ratios of list to candidate votes for each of the leading parties. If a candidate has a personal vote, the ratio of his vote to his party’s will be greater than 1.00. If he is less popular than his party, the ratio will be less than 1.00.
In the Palestinian context, the nominal tier used an MNTV system (multi-seat plurality, with the voter allowed to cast as many votes as there are seats). So, we need to compute the ratio for the leading candidate and the last candidate (and we could do so for all a party’s candidates in a district, but let’s not get too carried away, fun though this is!).
Averaging across the 16 districts, the ratio of Hamas’s leading candidate’s votes to the party-list vote is 1.01. In other words, on average, the leading Hamas candidate obtained almost the same vote share as the party list. The lowest district ratio was .88 (Jericho) and the highest was 1.14 (Gaza). In twelve of the sixteen districts it was .95 or better.
For Fatah, on the other hand, the average ratio of the leading candidate’s vote to the party vote was .91, suggesting that Fatah candidates tended to be less popular than the party that nominated them. The lowest was .68 (Bethlehem) and the highest was 1.15 (Jericho, which elects a single member). In only four districts was it greater than 1, and in seven it was less than .90.
Taken together, these ratios reveal that Fatah’s leading candidates were less popular than the party as a whole, while those of Hamas were almost exactly as popular as the party. That fact alone tells us a lot about the extent to which this electoral system’s emphasis on individual candidates hurt Fatah. But that is not all. One of the challenges for a party under MNTV is to ensure that its voters use all their votes in the candidate races and cast them all for the party’s candidates. Voters are free to partially abstain or jump around and give some votes to candidates of one party and some to those of other parties or independents. Especially in districts that elect several members, MNTV thus poses a real challenge to a party’s candidate-recruitment and vote-mobilization efforts.
So, to determine the extent to which voters for each major party were loyal enough to give most or all of their votes to the party’s candidates, we can look at the ratio of the last candidate of the party to the party list votes in each district.
For Hamas, the ratio of the last candidate’s vote to the list vote averaged .89 across all thirteen multi-seat districts, while for Fatah it averaged .73. Two things stand out here. These figures show that there was a ballot “fall off” for both parties, either because voters got tired of marking ballots and stopped or because attractive candidates from another party pulled them away from some of their own party’s candidates. Yet note how much greater the Fatah fall off is for the last candidate. Not only did Fatah’s slate of candidates start off lower relative to its party list, but the numbers suggest a greater “tiredness” or “temptation” by other parties’ candidates for Fatah than for Hamas as voters cast (or didn’t cast) their multiple votes.
In some of the districts, the fall off for Fatah was really striking. In Jerusalem, the fourth and last Fatah candidate had just over half the votes of the Fatah list, and in Tulkarem the third and last had less than half.
This analysis underscores the extent to which Hamas had the more party-loyal electorate. They also show that Fatah had some individual candidates who were quite strong personally, or else they could not have broken through the more solid Hamas electorate. And they should remind us again that it was not the Palestinian people who gave Hamas such a sweeping victory (74-45 in seats, but only 45-41% in party votes). It was bad electoral-system design.
The Palestine Central Election Commission announced the final results of the legislative election on January 29. Fatah gained one list seat and one district seat–both at the expense of Hamas–compared to the preliminary tally. The final seat total for Hamas is thus 74, or 56.1%. The final vote total actually puts Hamas higher than originally reported, at 44.5%. I have updated my previous post and a subsequent post offers a more detailed analysis.
NOTE: The following has been partially updated to reflect the final results. I have not updated the votes totals for individual candidates, except for the district of Khan Younis, which was the only one in which the balance of Hamas and Fatah elected candidates changed from the preliminary results. From a quick check of the final results, it is clear that the ranking of candidates in districts other than Khan Younis did not change in any way relevant to what is reported below, even if the specific vote totals for candidates did change.
Seventy four seats for Hamas (officially known as Change and Reform), which obtained just 44.5% of the party-list votes, is a shockingly high level of seats. That’s 56.1% of the seats, for an advantage ratio (%seats/%votes) of 1.26. Shocking! Or is it?
Remember, before the election, in surveying the electoral rules, I noted that a parallel mixed-member system in which the nominal tier was multi-seat plurality (in the form of multiple non-transferable vote) would tend to generate a highly disproportional result. With an average district magnitude in the nominal tier of around 4, the disproportionality would be expected to be quite high, because the relationship between district magnitude and proportionality under plurality rule is the opposite of that under PR: Higher magnitude, greater disproportionality. The Palestinian nominal tier includes one 9-seat district and other districts of 8, 7 and 6 seats each. Only four districts have fewer than three seats.
At the time, I was referencing a poll that suggested the leading party would have around 45% of the votes (correctly, though the poll had the wrong party leading), and I said that this electoral system would be expected to manufacture a majority for a party with around 45% of the vote, with one proviso. It would do so only if the voters for that largest party were very party-loyal, such that they tended to fill out the full slate of the party’s candidates in those multi-seat districts. And I suggested that a movement like Hamas would be more likely to have such voters than Fatah, and so Hamas would have a higher advantage ratio that Fatah would–even if, as expected at the time, Hamas had the second most votes nationally.
Then on election night, I warned that the exit polls would probably under-state Hamas’s actual vote. However, even as I said that, I never imagined that Hamas would win a plurality of more three percentage points over Fatah. Now that we know that it did–in the party-list vote–there is nothing shocking whatsoever about the scale of the Hamas victory. Given that it was the largest party, it would be expected to win the vast majority of the nominal-tier seats, unless there was significant regional variation in party support, such that each party won similar numbers of districts, or unless its voters tended not to vote full slates.
Actually, the Hamas victory was even larger than it seems, for five of Fatah’s seventeen nominal-tier seats came from seats set aside for Christian candidates. There were four districts with one or two such seats, and all but one of these seats went to Fatah (the other went to an independent). So of the 60 non-set-aside seats, Hamas won 45 of them (75%) and Fatah only 12 (20%).
These 60 seats are divided among sixteen districts. A Hamas candidate had the leading vote total in eleven of them. These eleven districts comprise 46 seats (ignoring from here on out the Christian quota seats). Of these seats, Hamas won 41 (89.1%) and Fatah 4 (with the others won by independents).
In four districts, the leading candidate was from Fatah. These districts comprise eleven seats, and eight of those went to Fatah. In the remaining district (Tulkarem) the leading candidate was an independent, and the other two seats went to Hamas.
Leaving aside the independent candidates (as well as the Christian set-asides), there were just four districts that were not clean sweeps. These were Jenin (2 Hamas, 2 Fatah), Khan Younis (3 Hamas, 2 Fatah), Deir al-Balah (2 Hamas, 1 Fatah), and Nablus (5 Hamas, 1 Fatah).
In each of the four districts that returned split results the one (or in Jenin and Khan Younis, 2) Fatah winning candidate ranked ahead of some Hamas candidates. I will later on do some analysis of the complete results, but the following based on preliminary totals, when only the votes of the winning candidates were available. What is clear is that, aside from the Christian set-asides and the three districts whose six seats it swept (Qalqilya, Jericho, and Rafah), Fatah won seats only because it had a few candidates who ran well ahead of any others of the party. In other words, there were some with personal votes that allowed them to stand out ahead of not only the rest of the pack of Fatah candidates, but also ahead of some Hamas candidates. Let’s look at these districts more closely.
In Jenin, the parties alternated in the order of election: a Hamas candidate followed by one from Fatah, then another Hamas, and then another Fatah. The two Hamas candidates had 30,761 and 27,857 votes, while the two Fatah had 29,059 and 26,909. Without the votes of losing candidates or a party-list breakdown by district, it is impossible to know exactly what the total electorate for each party was in Jenin, but suffice it to say that the two parties were very closely balanced, and with the movement here and there of even a few thousand votes (that’s votes, not voters, given the multiple votes each voter may cast), one party could have swept. This outcome is a reminder, then, of how important individual candidates are in this type of electoral system. If all the candidates of a party were undifferentiated in the eyes of the voter and every voter gave all his or her votes to one party’s candidates, party would be a perfect predictor of the vote and the leading party would sweep. The personal vote allows a candidate to obtain some votes from voters who might not otherwise vote for the party.
Khan Younis was the one district in which the partisan complexion of the delegation changed from the preliminary to the final results, and so this paragraph is the only one in which I have updated any individual candidate vote totals. In Khan Younis, the first candidate elected was Mohammad Yousif Shakir Dahlan, with 38,349 votes. The last of five candidates elected was also from Fatah, Sofyan al-Agha, with 32,964 (more than 5,000 less than the other Fatah winner). In between these totals, three Hamas candidates were elected with vote totals ranging from 37,695 (654 behind the leading Fatah candidate) down to 33,207. A fourth Hamas candidate came in just over 300 votes behind the the last winner in the district, Fatah’s al-Agha.
In Deir al-Balah, the one Fatah winning candidate came in second place, 2,227 votes behind the district leader, and just 346 votes ahead of the last-elected candidate.
Finally, in Nablus, the one Fatah winner came in third place among the six candidates elected. The district leader was Ahmad Ali Ahmad Ahmad, wth 44,634 votes. The next Hamas candidate, Hamid Suleiman Jabir Khadair was 1,182 votes behind him, and then came the one Fatah winner, Mahmoud Othaman Ragheb al-Aloul, another 5,244 votes back. The last-elected candidate had 36,655 votes, which is 7,979 votes behind the leader.
These results tell us that the variance between elected candidates of the same party is not large, but that it was only due to such variance that Fatah elected anyone aside from the set-aside seats and the six candidates that came from the three districts that Fatah swept.
Overall, the legislative dominance of the leading party is precisely what would be expected given the electoral system, unless there was wide variance in the personal votes of a party’s candidates (as was the case in Liberia’s two-seat plurality senate elections, for example). It is worth bearing in mind as we watch Israeli-Palestinian relations unfold in the coming months and years that the Palestinian electorate did not give Hamas an overwhelming victory, the electoral system did.
Posts at other blogs on related themes: Charles Franklin of Political Arithmetik has his take, including some graphs based on the same less-than-ideal data that I use, showing how close the candidates of Hamas (in particular) tended to be in votes.
And I am really honored that Mystery Pollster has not only linked to me, but quoted me! (Thanks to Charles for making that possible, by his links to my previous posts here.)
Among the many bloggers with posts discussing the broader significance of the result, I wan to call specific attention to the following: Mark Lynch at Abu Aardvark, Steven Taylor at PoliBlogger, and, as always, Jonathan Edelstein at The Head Heeb.
Lynch notes the parallels to Algeria, 1992, which became a symbol of American conditional support for democracy in Islamic countries, and also the extent to which several political-science propositions are about to be put to the test: “does power moderate or radicalize Islamist groups?,” among others.
Edelstein notes, among many interesting points, that it is possible that an electoral victory far greater than Hamas itself could ever have expected could shift the internal balance of power within the movement: “Just as Fatah is in rebellion against its old-guard Tunisian leadership, Hamas may now escape the tutelage of its Syrians. On the other hand, the internal debate may result in the parliamentary delegation becoming an instrument through which Khaled Meshaal’s hard-liners exert influence.” And Jonathan also discusses the implications for Israeli domestic politics: “Likud now has a new campaign issue and the center will probably lose some ground to the right, but most of Kadima’s voters are already convinced that there is no Palestinian negotiating partner, and Hamas’ win may actually strengthen support for further unilateral moves.” And further, he notes that the Tel Aviv stock exchange “took only minor losses when the news broke and has since rallied” … and “all the politicians and commentators are saying exactly the expected things – Eitam is blaming Hamas’ victory on the withdrawal, Beilin blames the lack of Israeli support for Abbas, and the Kadima people are saying that the election result proves the necessity of unilateral moves.”
What was it that I said yesterday (in the immediately previous post) about not trusting exit polls in the political and security context of Palestine? What was it I said about the multi-seat plurality races being especially hard to estimate based on exit-poll sampling, even under the best of conditions for the polling itself?
Exit polls on the night of the vote gave the ruling Fatah Party a slight victory, a finding that was dramatically reversed on Thursday when Fatah and Hamas leaders said Hamas had won a clear majority of the 132-seat legislature.
The discrepancy may have been due to a reluctance by some voters to admit to pollsters that they were abandoning the ruling party. The polling errors appeared especially glaring in district races, where smaller numbers of voters were surveyed. [my emphasis]
Not only would a smaller sample be a problem, but so would the basic process of estimating from that sample, given that a typical pattern of multi-seat plurality systems (as I have noted in more detail in past posts) is that voters do not necessarily give all their ‘nominal’ votes to candidates of the same party or even use all of the nominal votes they are entitled to use.
The story goes on to say that Hamas apparently won a “large majority” in the district races, just as I suspected they would, because their voters would be more likely to vote the full slate than would voters of the internally divided Fatah.
In fact the scale of the Hamas win in the distrists vastly exceeds what I could have imagined. Another Post story says that Hamas won nearly all of them, and 75 seats overall. Yet another story I read (at Ynet) said that Hamas might have won 80 overall.
I have not yet seen updated votes totals, but remember–the vote estimates that were reported last night from exit polls might prove to be much closer to reality than the seat results, because the nominal (district) and PR-list seats are allocated completely separately (in ‘parallel’) in Palestine’s variant of a mixed-member system. A multi-seat district plurality system–Palestine’s nominal tier–can produce wide divergence between votes and seat shares, especially when one major party has a more cohesive electorate than the other. This is precisely what I have meant in past posts when referring to the votes-seats conversion probably benefiting Hamas relative to Fatah–and that was evident even in the estimates that the exit pollsters gave.
Moreover, this electoral system is a ticket-splitter’s dream. Not only do the list votes (which surely is what the exit poll was reporting) not have to match the candidate votes, but (reiterating here) within a district voters can split among candidates of different parties.
These factors compound not only exit-poll estimation, but also any systematic real-results relationship between votes and seats.
With a clear majority in the parliament, Hamas will now have to form the government. Palestine has a semi-presidential system with a relatively strong presidency, but requires that the cabinet have the confidence of the parliament. Already, the cabinet has resigned.
I will leave it to others more versed in the Middle East to assess the significance of this result.
An exit poll by Bir Zeit University in Ramallah showed Fatah winning 63 seats in the 132-member parliament with 46.4 percent of the vote and Hamas taking 58 seats with 39.5 percent.
I would be really cautious with exit polls in an electoral system like this–even if it were a ‘normal’ environment in which people felt free to talk to people on the street asking them how they just voted. By that I mean that this electoral system–multi-seat plurality, plus list PR in parallel–means the pollster needs to know:
(1) whether the voter used all his/her votes in the nominal tier (the local multi-seat district);
(2) the identities of all the candidates he or she voted for;
(3) and the party list the voter checked.
That’s a lot of moving parts for each interviewee. And then the exit-polling company has to extrapolate from a sample and somehow generate a national allocation. That involves lots of assumptions about how completely other similar voters filled out their slate of candidates in the nominal tier. In general, multi-seat plurality races are very hard to predict because small vote shifts for individual candidates can make substantial differences in the outcome of the election in a district. It is not as though the outcome can be extrapolated just from knowing the party a voter preferred when the voter has more than one vote and can use all or none of them and spread them out on candidates of multiple parties or concentrate them all on one party.
Wow, if the exit pollsters get it right other than by just luck, I will be really impressed!
OK, so let’s assume I will be impressed–really impressed–and the projection is about right (for all I know it might be). Then the advantage ratio for the second largest party (Hamas) exceeds that of the largest party (Fatah). The advantage ratio tells us how over-/under-represented a given party is, and is calculated as %seat/%votes.
For Fatah, 47.8% of the seats on 46.4% of the votes would mean an advantage ratio of 1.03. For Hamas 43.9% of the seats on 39.5% of the votes would be 1.11.
On December 28, after surveying the electoral system, I said that this is the sort of electoral system that would manufacture a majority for a party of around 45% if that party’s voters tended to vote the full slate in the multi-seat districts. However, given divisions in Fatah, I doubted that would happen. Referring to the factions in Fatah that re-united only after the deadline for registering candidates was extended, I noted:
Again, I think we need to be cautious about projections from these exit polls. But if the results are relatively close to the projection, it would show this very unusual electoral system working pretty much as expected, given the different levels of unity of the two largest parties.
Many more details, of course, at The Head Heeb, where Jonathan expects the final seat tally for Hamas to be closer to that of Fatah than is the case in the projection. If he is correct, and if the votes projection is fairly accurate, then the final result would be an even greater advantage to the more unified Hamas in votes-to-seats conversion. (And I would expect the final votes to vary less from the exit-poll projection than the final seats would, because I assume the votes being projected are the party-list votes. These, being a single choice for each voter and pooled nationwide, are not subject to the difficulties mentioned above for the nominal tier, aside from normal sampling error and potential interviewing bias.)
Also see Political Artithmetik for district-level comparisons of the turnout in this election and last year’s presidential election.
Just so everyone knows I have not totally forgotten about the rest of the world while focusing on Canada, here is a reminder that January 25 is a very important date: The Palestinian Legislative Council will be elected. Click on “Palestine” above for previous posts on this election, which covered the electoral system and the nomination strategies of Fatah and Hamas.
Political Arithmetik has been tracking the polls, and the graph shows that Hamas has gained considerably in voter intention over the course of the campaign, while Fatah has been more erratic but has mostly declined. Both trends may have reversed lately, with two recent polls putting Fatah at about a ten-point lead over Hamas. Fatah’s vote is hovering in the low 40-percent range, whereas a month ago it was closer to 50%. The post also contains an interesting discussion of the political context, informed by Charles’s recent trip to the Middle East.
It is worth noting that these polls–I think–are based on voter intentions with respect to the party-list vote. Whether they tell us much about the outcome of the mutli-seat district candidate-based races is dubious (see earlier discussions both in posts and comments about the ‘personal vote.’)
The Head Heeb had a “one week to go” post that sets the stage nicely, and I would imagine that Jonathan will have more in the coming days.
I will probably try to analyze the results once they are in, though perhaps not immediately. As is clear from my previous posts on the Palestinian elections, I find their unusual form of a mixed-member majoritarian system quite interesting from a social-scientific and psephological perspective.
Both Charles and Jonathan discuss methodological issues with respect to surveys in the Palestinian context. With some caveats, they note something encouraging: The electorate overall holds quite moderate views. Now, if only their legislators, whoever they may be, can get out of the way and allow those moderate views to be translated into action…
Middle East Report Online notes that the internal conflicts within Fatah are “a byproduct of Arafat’s personalized style of rule and the consequent institutional anemia of the party.” On the other hand,
Hamas’ approach to electoral contests starts well before election day, with careful construction of candidate lists. The party has attracted some of Palestine’s best talent by offering financial and institutional backing to reputable persons and — taking a page out of Fatah’s book — by forming coalitions with independents of sterling quality without imposing ideological litmus tests.
Meanwhile, former Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, who earned a reputation as a reformer while attempting to impose fiscal discipline:
was loath to damage his reputation further by placing his name next to the unpopular “Tunisians” [i.e. the former exile leaders] on a slate of candidates for office. Instead, he formed a new list, at first dubbed Freedom and later called simply the Third Way. [...] Hanan Ashrawi, among others, has signed on to Fayyad’s list.
The report also contains further background on the split–covered here in the earlier post–in Fatah that was patched up with new candidate slates presented after an extended deadline.
The report conlcudes, in part:
Palestine could very well emerge from the January elections with internal checks and balances on the power of the PA executive, but because they will have come about through ad hoc politicking rather than serious institutional reform, they may produce a paralyzed Palestinian Authority rather than a more democratic one.
The Hamas movement’s list, al-Islah wa-al-Taghyir (“Change and Reform”) is led by Isma’il Haniyya, is represented by a diverse collection of national figures, academics, free-lance professionals, trade unions, and even women (some of them widows of popular Hamas activists that were killed by Israel, in order to awaken national identification in the public). The party list also includes activists & militants imprisoned in Israeli prisons.
The article notes that Hamas has yet to determine whether it will participate in the new Palestinian government.
Continuing a theme from earlier in the week, and continuing to rely on Jonathan Edelstein for the details, it is interesting to see how Fatah has rearranged its nominations in the local multi-seat districts and the national party list for the upcoming elections. (Recall that Fatah factions registered separate slates of candidates, and then a last-minute court order extending the registration period permitted them to re-join in a unified slate.)
Jonathan, at The Head Heeb, reports that several of the Future faction’s candidates were granted winnable list positions, and also that some popular Future candidates replace old-guard Fatah candidates in the mutli-seat plurality (nominal tier) districts, where their presence could help Fatah prevent what otherwise could be a Hamas sweep of the district.
As Jonathan notes, “lackluster names can be buried much more easily on the national ticket where most of the attention will be on the people at the top.” As I have discussed in one of the most-commented threads (or most-propagated plantings) in the illustrious history of F&V, the opportunity that mixed-member systems (whether proportional/compensatory, or–as in Palestine–parallel) provide parties for ensuring victory via a closed list of candiadtes who are unelectable in the nominal tier is often a source of controversy in such systems.
Relatedly, my own (ongoing) research into the extent of a “personal vote” in closed-list PR systems seems to be pointing in the same direction as Jonathan’s evidence from Palestine. Briefly, the personal vote is that portion of a candidate’s own vote that the candidate obtains based on who he or she is, rather than what party he or she was nominated by. In electoral systems where voters are more likely to notice who the candidates are–especially those where they have to give a vote for one or more candidates–the personal vote is theoretically expected to play a greater role in elections. Parties operating in systems with a higher personal vote can be expected to leverage the personal vote by nominating visible candidates whose appeal may be greater than the party itself, and by doing so they may obtain more votes than would be the case if their slates were full of (hypothetical) undifferentiated party “hacks” (or candidates who appeal only to internal party organizations, but not to the broader public).
So, in closed-list systems, party reputation is expected to matter much more than the personal vote, but that does not mean that the theory of the personal vote expects such votes to be zero when lists are closed. What it suggests is that candidates with notable personal reputations would be expected to be nominated high on lists, where voters woud be inclined to notice them as the “face” of the party. Lower on the list, parties can get away with nominating the more “hackish” party regulars who lack personal followings, because in a list that voters must accept or reject as a whole, there is little incentive for voters to pay attention to the full slate of candidates.
Jonathan notes that, on the new Fatah list, some reformists known for service outside party politics (e.g. a university chemist and a refugee services coordinator) have now been promoted to higher and thus more visible (and election-ensuring) list ranks from the more “marginal” ranks they had initially.
Jonathan’s information about how Fatah is making use of the nominal districts (where personal reputation is most important to the party’s chances), high ranks on the closed list (where it is somewhat important), and low ranks (where personal reputation–even a negative one–is not expected to matter much, because few voters notice) is totally consistent with the theory of the intra-party dimension of representation.
And, as Jonathan notes, Hamas had already submitted nominatons that reflected a similar strategy with respect to leveraging the personal vote: “featuring prominent local candidates to anchor the territorial slates and a national list with big names at the top and something for everyone underneath.”
It’s always great to see theory get real-world validation!
As Jonathan Edelstein noted a few days ago at The Head Heeb, two factions of Fatah managed to avoid running separately in the Palestinian elections scheduled for January 25, thanks to a late, creative, ruling by the electoral court to delay the registration deadline.
Younger Fatah activists had split off and formed a party called “Future” (an interesting, if presumably unintentional parallel to the not-so-young Ariel Sharon’s splinter of Likud: “Forward”).
The delay in the registration deadline permitted the two groups to reconcile and submit a joint list of candidates. Had they failed to do so, as Jonathan notes, an already weak party system would have been made even weaker. On the other hand, the fact that they will not be running separately denies voters a chance to choose clearly between the old guard and the new blood. Still more to the point, the Palestinian electoral system effectively gave the two Fatah wings no other choice (even if they almost blew it).
The Palestinian legislative elections will be held under a variation of a mixed-member system: Half the 132 seats will be elected by plurality in multi-seat districts* and the other half by closed party list PR in a single Palestinian territorywide district (Ste.-LaguÃ« divisors, 2% threshold). The nominal tier of regional multi-seat plurality constituencies has an average magnitude of around four seats, and the voter may vote for as many candidates as there are seats in the district.
The system is thus mixed-member majoritarian (MMM, also known as parallel). That is, unlike in MMP systems, the share of votes won by each party will not determine the overall make-up of the parliament. Instead, each party’s share of votes determines only the share of seats it wins in the party-list tier, and then these seats are simply added to the totals won by each party’s candidates in the separate nominal-tier races.**
What that means is that a party that wins many nominal-tier seats will retain much of its seat-winning bonus–unlike in MMP. And given multi-seat plurality, the votes-to-seats disproportionality of this tier could be very large (unless many voters vote less-than-straight tickets, that is mixing and matching across parties).
While I do not know the regional breakdown of Fatah factional and Hamas support, with a recent territorywide polling breakdown that Jonathan gives, it is clear that two separate Fatah lists, also running separate full slates of candidates in the nominal tier, could lose badly to Hamas (especially given that Hamas voters are probably likely to be more disciplined, i.e. likely to vote the full slate of Hamas-nominated candidates in their districts). A unified Fatah list, on the other hand, should beat Hamas.
According to the poll, Hamas is at 31.4%, Future 26.8, and “official” Fatah at 17.7. If that breakdown held, the MMM system could give Hamas, running against separate Fatah factional slates, a seat share much greater than its vote share. But by rejoining forces, Fatah, if it can hold the combined 44.5% that the poll shows for its two wings, almost surely would win a majority of seats under MMM. It is worth noting, however, that this is a rather big “if” because, given the Fatah divisions, many voters may refuse to vote for the full Fatah slate in their nominal-tier district. That is, some voters may vote only for the candidates they recognize as “Future” or “official” Fatah members, and not for the candidates of both factions. To the extent that happens, and Hamas voters are more unified, the result could still favor Hamas relative to Fatah in the votes-to-seats conversion. The two Fatah factions are still better off running together–and trying to encourage full-slate voting–than they would be running separately.
The electoral system really gave them no other choice than to come back together, or else forfeit the leading position in parliament to Hamas. In that sense, then, the recent brinksmanship was sort of an unofficial “primary” by which the Future faction sought to get better nominations than the official Fatah had previously offered it. Apparently, it has worked, albeit only after armed skirmishes between the factions.
If Israel votes first, it is likely that a stable center-left government will be established, and the new government will be able to facilitate the Palestinian election process without worrying about its standing in the polls. This, in turn, will increase the odds of a more moderate Palestinian parliament being elected. If the Palestinians vote first, the situation will be precisely the opposite: election-year politics will prevent Israel from making the concessions that might boost Fatah’s electoral chances, and a strong Hamas performance in January will give the right-wing parties a campaign issue for March.
*With one proviso: There are guarantees that a fixed number of seats must be won by Christians, so in districts where Christian seats are set aside, some non-Christian candidates might be skipped in favor of one or more Christians with fewer votes. (This mechanism is similar to the women’s-representation provision in Afghanistan’s SNTV system.)
**To my knowledge, MMP has never been used with a nominal tier of multi-seat districts. It could be done, in principle, but doing so would make it all the more important that the list-PR tier be really large (not less than 50%) in order to achieve proportionality.
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4