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Friday, 23 April. 2021
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy

Ramallah – On 28/2/2021, MIFTAH held a dialogue session on “maximizing the prospects of youth groups in the upcoming elections” through its Elections Support Program, with the participation of representatives from youth groups and movements and independent lists.

The session first identified the characteristics of the current stage and the active political forces in the Palestinian arena, in addition to the challenges that have arisen due to the absence of the democratic process for the past 15 years. The participants voiced their demands from political forces to achieve national unity and to set the stage for healthy and honest competition over political authority and state institution-building through the electoral process. They also called on them to combat any tribal, populist or territorial cracks that could emerge during the course of the elections.

Youth activist, Anas Al Asta, said during the session: “We are still in the stage of forming electoral lists; within this space, I would like to call on all forces and youth movements to create a joint vision capable of building a strong and representative alliance to engage in the upcoming elections and formulate a clear mechanism for integrating lists in a way that will maximize our chances.”

Political activist, Ashraf Nabali, maintained that an opportunity for youth could be their representation in diversified, rather than independent lists, explaining that youths standing alone in independent lists could disperse independent votes. He also said there was a problem due to the current electoral system in Palestine, according to the Election Law No. 1 of 2007, in that it is based on the proportional representation system and that the homeland is one electoral list, which constitutes a challenge for youth in forming their own lists.

Women’s activist, Dr. Hikmat Masri pointed to the gap between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a result of the estrangement caused by the division and the siege over the past years. This, she said, has made communication difficult between the two sectors of the homeland. Masri called for civil society organizations to become involved in supporting youth and women’s lists and to offer the required support to help them create a national alternative and to overcome the obstacles in the way of their participation.

Journalist, Rula Salama, maintained that the complications and conditions for candidacy, including that employees must first resign before joining electoral lists, in addition to the pricey fees for each list, has made this a real challenge and a choice between making a living and exercising their political right to participation. Salama also called for the integration of special-needs persons in promising electoral lists. She ascertained that the absence of such a large number of women wanting to run is the result of social barriers such as opposition from the husband or family to her candidacy.

Activist Ruba Masrouji, added: “The concept of determining a youth quota and presenting it to the lists goes against the concept of citizenry. Since we are all equal in rights and duties, we should utilize this meeting to begin neutralizing the concept “I” for the sake of the sectors we represent. We need to be able to overcome the obstacles facing efforts to unify youth and independent groups and movements and to produce a list capable of creating an alternative and competing for PLC seats.”

Furthermore, activist Amer Hamdan said the elections posed an opportunity to “compensate for our shortcomings in the past, represented in the absence of a real opposition comprised of different sectors, which could have prevented us from reaching the division and fragmentation of our liberation project.” He said this was in addition to the totalitarian behavior we see today by the ruling authority, whether in the West Bank or Gaza Strip, apparent in the violation and suppression of freedoms and the deterioration of the rights system as a result of arbitrary measures, to which many political activists have fallen victim.

Activist Yousef Haj Qassem, meanwhile, addressed the need for practical steps towards forming a united youth list by presenting electoral platforms that meet their needs and aspirations and adopting integrational mechanisms for various societal components. He said youths stood before a real test today to highlight their capabilities in managing public affairs in a way that honors democratic values and principles.

At the end of the session, the participants recommended holding more of these meetings in a bid to achieve the aspired goal, which is to form coalitions for unified lists. This, they said, would strengthen their chances in legislative elections. The recommendations also included the need to agree on integrational mechanisms among the various lists by adopting electoral platforms that express the visions of youth sectors in Palestinian society. This is in addition to integrating civil society institutions as an incubator for the efforts of youth and women’s lists, maintaining that youth lists are in a race with time given the short timeframe for running in the PLC elections.

This meeting was part of a series of dialogue sessions in preparation for the upcoming general elections, particularly the PLC elections slated to be held on 22/5/2021. MIFTAH seeks to promote the role of youth and women in effectively participating in both the candidacy and election process, in order to guarantee the just representation of various societal sectors in the Palestinian political system. The goal of this is to bridge the gaps in their political, social and economic programs and to support their efforts to maximize their chances for winning PLC seats and to support cooperation in the name of respect for democratic values and practices as a launching point for political participation.

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