27 January 2006

Sure enough: Hamas it is

BerlinBear avatarThe reports were indeed accurate. With the final vote count in and confirmed, Hamas has won a victory so resounding in the Palestinian elections that even Hamas' own leaders appear to have been taken by suprise.

Reuters reports that, after an overall voter turnout at a very respectable 78%, Hamas has taken 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian legislature. Fatah, the party of Yassir Arafat, which had long been dominant in Palestinian politics, won just 43 seats. Hamas is said to be seeking to form a coalition government, though Fatah's leaders have said they do not wish to be involved in a Hamas-led coalition.

Further analysis of this result from me will have to wait until I've had a chance to read some more and form a clear opinion. It may even have to go into the 'too hard' basket. In particular, I wait with interest to see the following:
  1. Whether or not Hamas will be successful in forming the coalition government it seeks
  2. Whether or not, now that it finds itself in power, Hamas will disband its armed wing and soften its stance on the destruction of the state of Israel, as Western leaders were quick to stress the necessity of after the results were announced today
  3. Whether or not the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, will find himself forced to resign if Hamas derails his fledgling peace efforts, and if so, who will replace him
  4. How Israel, the US and the EU will react if Hamas do indeed disarm.
Until I've had a chance to observe those developments and broaden my understanding of the various implications of this election result, I think I shall reserve judgement. It's not difficult to fathom why many Palestinian voters have chosen to support Hamas with what must to a large extent be considered a protest vote. That said, I confess that this result causes me considerable concern, and leaves me rather less hopeful for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than I previously was. Time will tell.

Seeing a result such as this come out of an apparently free and fair dmeocractic election, I can't help thinking of Winston Churchill's famous quote about democracy as a political system:
Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.