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Palestinian Elections & Government: The Electoral Law of the Palestinian Authority

(December 7, 1995)

The electoral law signed by President Yasser Arafat on Thursday, December 7, 1995, contains regulations for the nomination process, the election campaign, the conduct of the election and the counting of the votes.

As basic principle the law establishes a majority voting system with 16 constituencies for the election of the Palestinian Council and one single constituency for the election of the President of the Palestinian National Authority. Of the 16 constituencies, five are located in the Gaza Strip, 11 cover the territory of the West Bank, including Jerusalem. Each elector will have one vote for the election of the President and as many votes for the Council as his or her constituency has seats in the Council. If for example a constituency is entitled to send five members to the Council, each elector has up to five votes. Elector can distribute their votes to candidates belonging to one or more parties and may also vote for only one or two candidates.

In the election for the President the candidate who gets the highest number of votes is elected. If there is going to be only one candidate, he or she must however receive more valid votes than there are blanks or invalid ones.

In the election for the Council the best-placed candidates win the seats of their constituency. In three constituencies there is however a special quota for Christians. A second special regulation concerns the constituency of Nablus where an additional seat is reserved for the Samaritan minority.

The nomination of candidates was open to parties and to independent candidates. Candidates running for the presidency must present 5000 signatures supporting their candidacy and pay a deposit of 3000 USD to the Ministry of Finance. Candidates for the Council must present 500 signatures and pay a deposit of 1000 USD. The deposit is going to be refunded to the candidates that are elected. Candidates must be Palestinians, have a valid address in an area under the jurisdiction of the Council and be at least 35 years old when running for the presidency and 30 years for the Council. The candidates that present their candidacy first will appear on top of the ballot papers of their constituency. The ballot paper will show the name of the candidate, his or her party and the logo or the initials of the party or his or her status as independent candidate, as well a space to mark (x) for the candidate.

Nominations were open from December 14 until December 23, and from December 30 to December 31. On January 5, the Central Election Commission the Final Statement of Persons Nominated and on the same day, the election campaign starts.

The law also contains precise regulations for the conduct of the campaign. The Central Election Commission (CEC) will publish a list of sites for campaign rallies. Campaigning in the buildings of the Authority and in mosques and churches is prohibited. All candidates shall also have access to the official Palestinian media. Equal media opportunities will be allocated to candidates of parties, as well as to independent candidates. In addition, the official Palestinian news and current affaires media must maintain a fair balance of coverage between parties and candidates during the campaign.

The law contains strict regulations concerning illegal offences during the campaign. Foreign funding of campaigns is prohibited. The election campaign ends on January 18, 1996. There will be no campaigning on polling day and the day before.

Complaints concerning for example the behaviour of candidates or alleged discrimination against candidates can be addressed to the Central Election Commission. An Election Appeals Court will be established to deal with disputes that cannot be solved on a lower level.

On election day the polling stations will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. The Polling Station Commissions will then count the votes in the polling stations and will transmit the results to the District Election Offices (DEO). The DEOs will total these results and transmit the figures to the CEC that will publish them.

Sources: The Palestinian Academic Network