Local Elections (2021-2022)
The first round of voting took place on 11 December 2021, in 376, mostly rural, local authorities in the West Bank. The second round place occurred on 26 March 2022 and include the remaining 66 local authorities in Gaza and larger municipalities in the West Bank. An additional 61 local authorities where no elections took place in the first round were also included.
Israeli forces detained a number of candidates, including the newly elected independent mayor of al-Bireh, Islam al-Tawil, who was placed in administrative detention for four months. Such actions were condemned by the CEC as “a blatant interference in the electoral process and a violation of freedoms and democratic practices.”
A majority of electoral lists competing in the two rounds were independent (i.e. those with no official connection to a political party). This ostensibly reflects a pre-existing shift away from factional politics seen in the last local elections in 2017. However, while few of the electoral lists were explicitly connected to established parties, many did have loose connections with Fatah. Some were also linked to PFLP and Hamas (despite both groups officially boycotting the elections). Other electoral lists were formed based on family or tribal relations.
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, officially due to the expiration of their mandate.
Local elections were last held, in the West Bank only, in 2017 amidst a boycott by Hamas.
Hamas announced its intention to once again boycott local elections and prevent the inclusion of Gaza which it controls. As in 2017, it conditioned its approval on several issues, including the cancellation of the Electoral Court (created by Abbas in 2021) and the transfer of jurisdiction over electoral matters in the Gaza Strip to local courts (under its control).
In addition to Hamas, several of the main parties and movements — including the PFLP and anti-Abbas Fatah factions — also boycotted the first round given uncertainty about whether the second round would 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.”
First Round — 11 December 2021
The first round of elections, held on 11 December 2021, featured a large number of electoral lists, with a total of 745 electoral lists. However, only 154 local authorities witnessed competitive elections — featuring multiple lists running against each other. In many of the remaining authorities, only one list competed. In others, no lists registered at all. (In such cases, the composition of local councils will be decided by the Council of Ministers).
The December 2021 vote saw a turn-out of 66.14%, with independent candidates winning over 70% of the contested seats.
Second Round — 26 March 2022
According the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, 259 electoral lists registered to compete in the second round. Most of these present themselves as political independents. Similar to the first round, only 50 districts saw competitive elections — featuring more than one list of candidates. In light of Hamas’s boycott, local elections will not be held in Gaza.
According to the CEC, the March 2020 vote saw a turn-out of 53.69%, with independent candidates winning 64% of contested seats.