Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hamas: the real level of its support

Amir Taheri corrects the impression the Hamas have majority support in the Palistinian Authority. Hamas's 74 out of 132 seats in the National Assembly should not be extrapolated into a proportion of national backing. 49 of those seats were district constituencies and most of them from Gaza.

Hamas' strong showing at the district level was largely due to its well-entrenched presence in Gaza, where voter turnout was 81 percent. As Hamas' base, Gaza has always been inhospitable territory to secular parties, including President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah. Thanks to Gaza, Hamas won almost 44 percent of the district-level votes.

At the national level, however, Hamas collected just over 36 percent of the votes. Taking the two levels together, Hamas won only 40 percent of the popular vote — which means that 60 percent of the Palestinians voted against it.
He points to other strong parlamentary showings by Islamic parties similarly based on relatively narrow popular support.
...four years ago in Turkey, [..] the Justice and Development (AK) Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan won two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly with a third of the votes. Before that, the Front for Islamic Salvation (FIS) had been poised to win two-thirds of the seats in Algeria's general election in 1991, again with a third of the votes.
Conclusion? The Hamas Charter may well not be a reliable basis for a forecast on what they will try to do in power. Dose of optimism for the day.

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