Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party and the rival Hamas terror group would each fall well short of a parliamentary majority if elections are held in May, forcing them to partner with each other or with smaller parties to form a government, according to a poll released today.
Abbas has decreed Palestinian elections for May 22 in what would be the first general vote since Hamas won a landslide victory in 2006. The process appears to be on track, but disputes between the long-feuding factions could cause the vote to be delayed or canceled, as has happened in the past.
The poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that if elections were held today a single Fatah list would win 43% of the vote and Hamas would win 30%, with 18% of voters undecided.
But a faction led by Mohammed Dahlan, a former senior Fatah leader who had a falling out with Abbas and is based in the United Arab Emirates, would win 10%. Nasser al-Kidwa, who was kicked out of Fatah after forming his own list, would win 7%. They would mainly draw votes from Fatah, dropping its share to around 30%, the poll says.
The PCPSR carried out face-to-face interviews with 1,200 Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza, with a margin of error of 3%.
PCPSR director Khalil Shikaki says Fatah is seen as best able to address most of voters’ top concerns, including restoring national unity, improving the economy and lifting the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza that was imposed after Hamas, which openly seeks Israel’s destruction, seized power in 2007. But Fatah’s internal rivalries could weaken it vis-à-vis the more disciplined and unified Hamas.
“Both Fatah and Hamas have major problems,” Shikaki tells reporters. “Hamas’ main problem is the perception that it cannot address the major challenges. Fatah’s major problem is the splits.”