The Palestinian Authority (PA) has held presidential and legislative elections twice. The first were in 1996, when Yasser Arafat won the presidency and his party, Fatah, dominated the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). A presidential election was held once again in 2005 following Arafat’s death, and was won by Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas's mandate was extended in 2009 by the PLO's Executive Committee (EC).
Legislative elections for the PLC were held once again in 2006, at the urging of President Bush, and won by the Islamist group Hamas. The Carter Centre and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) considered the elections to have “compared favorably to international standards…with polling results reflect[ing] the will of the people”. The EU held a similar view, describing them as “another important milestone in the building of democratic institutions. These elections saw impressive voter participation in an open and fairly-contested electoral process that was efficiently administered by a professional and independent Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC).” Ultimately, however, the US-led Quartet boycotted the Hamas-led government.
On 12 December 2018, the Constitutional Court issued a decree dissolving the PLC and calling for legislative elections within 6 months — by 12 May 2019).
In addition, there have been three municipal elections since the PA's creation: in 2004-05 in both the West Bank and Gaza; and in 2012 and 2017 in the West Bank only, without the participation of several Palestinian factions, including Hamas. These also excluded the refugee camps which are administered by the Camp Services Committees.
PA elections (presidential, legislative, and municipal) are regulated by the 2007 Elections Law – a decree issued by Abbas. It replaced the previous 2005 Elections Law and added a new provision relating to eligibility criteria for candidates by requiring them “to uphold the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and the Declaration of Independence Document in addition to the provisions of the Basic Law”.
Since 2005 Palestinian elections have been administered by the independent Central Elections Commission (CEC). The CEC includes nine Commissioners led by Hanna Nasir. They are appointed by presidential decree.