Elections in Palestine’s municipalities and local authorities will take place in two phases according to a decision taken by the Palestinian Authority (PA) Council of Ministers: The first phase, scheduled for 11 December 2021, will include 376, mostly rural, local authorities in the West Bank. The second phase will take place on 26 April 2022 and include the remaining 66 local authorities in Gaza and larger municipalities in the West Bank.
This comes after the cancellation of legislative and presidential elections by President Mahmoud Abbas in May 2021; and the PA’s decision to dissolve existing municipal councils in July 2021. Hamas has announced its intention to boycott local elections, and prevent the inclusion of Gaza which it controls. Local elections were last held in the West Bank only in 2017 amidst a similar boycott by Hamas.
These elections feature a large number of electoral lists, with a total of 745 lists registered to compete in the first round of elections. However, only 154 local authorities will witness competitive elections — featuring multiple lists running against each other. In many of the remaining authorities, only one list will be competing. In others, no lists have registered at all.
Few of the electoral lists are explicitly connected to the established parties, although it is likely that many do have loose connections with Fatah. Others have been formed based on family or tribal relations. In addition to Hamas, several of the main parties and movements are also boycotting the elections given uncertainty about whether the second round will actually be held, the PA’s continued refusal to hold legislative and presidential elections, and exclusion of Gaza.
In explaining its refusal to participate, Nasser Kidwa‘s National Democratic Assembly declared: “Convening municipal elections in a piecemeal and fragmented manner is a manipulation of the law and an obvious attempt to partake in a round of elections whose results are presumed forgone by the organizers. This only confirms the decision maker’ absolute lack of committent to democratizing Palestinian institutions.”