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December 07, 2004


Jonathan Edelstein

Interesting. I'd figured that the Islamist and leftist candidates would poll higher (splitting ~10 percent of the vote rather than 3 percent), with the four Islamists drawing some votes from Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters. There have been some indications that Mustafa Barghouti is being promoted as a consensus third-party candidate, but his background and platform aren't pro-Islamist. Maybe those votes will go to Marwan Barghouti instead. Live and learn, I guess.

Of course, the accuracy of the poll is also in question. Dr. Shikaki is probably the best of the Palestinian pollsters, but Palestinian electoral politics doesn't have a long track record, and many voters (especially Islamists) might be wary of disclosing their preferences. This election doesn't lend itself to easy prediction.

I do tend to think Abu Mazen will win, if only because of the power of patronage, but if these numbers hold and he wins 40-38 amid accusations of fraud, it would be bad news. A tainted plurality victory would make AM a crippled leader, and that's the last thing the Palestinians need.

lamont cranston

Shikaki's argument for why elections are so critical, meanwhile, is available here:


with a post-Arafat-demise follow-up interview here:


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