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The Steering Committee of the Electoral Reform Project met with the participation of President Carter

2009-06-13


 The Steering Committee held its fourth meeting on June 13, 2009 with the presence of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. A number of issues relating to the election were discussed at the meeting. There was a consensus on most issues discussed, with the exception of one point concerning the electoral system. The committee members noted the main points of agreement, listed below. Furthermore, based on subsequent consultations they recommended a compromise solution on the question of the electoral system, in the interest of contributing to consensus on these points at the political level:

Abdel Rahman Abu Arafeh welcoming President Carter during the meeting

First: the points of consensus:
• The date of the election: the date of the elections on 25/1/2010 was endorsed, stressing the commitment to this date, as well as the importance of respecting periodic elections.
• Thresholds: the most appropriate percentage for all was the 2% to give an opportunity to small parties and independents to participate and win, thus avoiding the concentration of power in the major parties.
• Voter registration update: there is a need for updating voter registration in both West Bank and Gaza since it has nothing to do with the current political situation. All factions should push it forward so that the Central Election Commission can conduct it the West Bank and Gaza to be ready for any agreed future election.
• The financing of electoral campaigns: the funding and expenditures should be determined and controlled in order avoid the repeating the mistakes of previous elections, which lacked a mechanism to carry out this task.
• Women‘s quota: there is a need to support women through the quota until the status quo changes, and women are empowered to participate freely, without the quota system in elections.


 
• Respecting the results of the election: It is necessary to draw lessons from previous elections and not to repeat the same mistakes, reflecting a lack of respect for election results.

Points of consensus agreed upon in previous meetings:
Local elections: The dates of local elections should be based on the same system as the last local elections because local authorities serve the community away from the appointment.
• The independence of the Central Elections Commission: The independence derives from the appointment of the Chairman and members of the Commission by PA President and approval by the Legislative Council.
 
• Electoral Court: there was no enforcement of electoral court decisions. Therefore, there should be an appropriate punishment against anyone violating the law.
• Christian Quota: The quota should be determined in relation to the increase in the number of Legislative Council members.
 
• The age of the candidates: The legal minimum age of candidates should be lowered,  to encourage youth  participation.
 
Recommended compromise solution on the outstanding issue (electoral system):
• The electoral system and, in particular, the opposition of the Hamas movement to full proportional representation: The proposals of participants ranged between full proportional representation and a mixed system. Further, supporters of the latter ranged in their suggested percentage distribution within the mixed system. Given the political situation, and in the interest of overcoming the current crisis, participants agreed on a compromise in which the proportional system is represented by75% and the majority system by 25%. An agreement on these percentages could lead to consensus allow elections to be held on time.  The next elected Legislative Council could later decide to amend or approve this system for future elections.
• Many issues are related to the political environment at the local and the international level. If there is progress in the Cairo dialogue, elections could be conducted on time. If the Palestinian parties reach consensus on peace, democracy and reform, the international community would deal with the upcoming government and respect the results of elections.
Participants in the meeting:
- Fatah
- Change and Reform Bloc
- Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
- Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
- The People‘s Party
- The Palestinian Arab Front
- Palestinian Popular Struggle Front
- As-Saiqa Organization
- Arab Liberation Front
- Palestinian Democratic Union "FEDA"
- Third Way
- The Central Election Commission
- Civil society institutions.


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