26 January 2006

Hamas win outright majority in Palestinian elections(?)

BerlinBear avatarWatch your news media outlet of choice in about an hour and a half, when the official results of the Palestinian elections are due to be announced. It's going to be BIG.

Indications so far are that Hamas may have won an outright majority. This is a result that no one appears to have been expecting. Hamas were expected to do well, yes, and maybe even to gain a majority of seats, but no one I know of was picking an outright majority. This would theoretically allow them to govern alone, rather than in a coalition government - though it remains to be seen whether Hamas will exercise that option or seek to build a coalition anyway. The Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, of the Fatah party, has already resigned. This would, of course, seem to indicate a very decisive Hamas victory.

This result, if confirmed, will throw the politics of the region into turmoil. It will make the incapacitation of Ariel Sharon seem like an insignificant ripple. Both the US and Israel had previously announced that they would not deal even with a Hamas-led coalition government, so the chances of their dealing with a Hamas-only government, should such a government be formed, would appear to be non-existent.

I need some time to digest the news reports, read around what's being said, and gather my wits on this issue. It is problematic, to say the least. I hope to be able to post something coherent on it later this evening.

At this point, I can't help wondering what the US response will be. The Bush administration will be in a bind. It's all very well to go throwing your weight around in an effort to bring freedom and democracy to the rest of the world, but what happens when you don't like the results of the democracy you helped to bring? Can you object, obstruct and refuse to recognise without looking completely and utterly hypocritical? That's the thing about democracy you see: the people decide, and you never quite know what they might do, given the chance.

More, I hope, later.