MIFTAH holds roundtable discussion on 2017 local elections results and women’s representation in the elections law
October 24, 2017

On October 18, MIFTAH, in cooperation with the Central Elections Committee (CEC), held a roundtable discussion on the results of the latest 2017 local elections and women’s representation in electoral lists. Representatives from Palestinian factions and civil society organizations participated in the discussion, which compared the 2012 election results to those in 2017. The participants discussed the amount of pressure and lobbying needed to amend election laws in order to achieve the full representation of women in LGUs.

The speakers expressed their dissatisfaction with the latest local elections results, which showed a setback in the percentage of women’s representation in comparison with the last elections. They called for a complete review in order to pinpoint the reasons for this setback and determine ways of increasing the percentage of women’s and youths’ representation given that youths represent the biggest social sector in the Palestinian society.

The speakers stressed on the importance of partnership between the political factions, civil society organizations and the CEC in raising awareness among citizens on the elections and on guaranteeing the appropriate representation of women. It was pointed out that the elections law accords women three basic rights: the right to nomination and election, equal with men; and the right to a special quota in local council election nominations whereby women’s representation is not to fall under 20% in these councils.

The participants also noted the efforts exerted by civil society institutions, MIFTAH first and foremost, with the Council of Ministers’ executive authority and the Ministry of Local Governance to amend the elections law. This includes raising the women’s quota from 20% to a minimum of 30%, lowing the candidacy age to 21 years old and also lowering the threshold from 8% to 5%, all of which would allow for more success of women’s lists in the upcoming elections.

The speakers pointed out the role which civil society could play in applying pressure to change the current elections law among decision makers in cooperation with the various political factions. They said this required all the forces to put pressure on the government in order to amend the law and other relevant laws to make them compatible with international agreements signed by the PA. They called for the implementation of the PLO’s Central Council decision which endorsed women’s representation in all PLO and State of Palestine institutions and in electoral lists at a minimum of 30%. They expressed their regret that the decision was not abided by, even by factions, in their electoral lists.

The participants also called for factions and parties to regain their role and status among the popular platform and coordinate between them to find a common, unifying framework. They said the factions are first required to implement the quota from within before participating in elections. This calls for the factions to reevaluate and reconsider their organizational structure and the role and status of women within each faction.

The speakers then recommended that factions and movements revive political, social and cultural education, and for democratic and progressive forces to take the initiative to form a socio-political and cultural coalition concerned with the role of women and youth in public life in order to spread the spirit of progressiveness in Palestinian society.

The recommendations also included developing the elections law in a way that would allow for a broader margin of democracy, which could be achieved through social dialogue and a reconsideration of the honor code adopted by factions in the 27th session of the Palestinian Central Council in March, 2015. They called for forming popular monitoring bodies that promote participation and commitment from all parties to this code; inviting factions and civil society organizations to hold symposiums on democratic education; reaffirming the periodicity of local and legislative elections and within the factions themselves; and conducting awareness campaigns that not only target women but all citizens as long as they adopt a democratic narrative.

Meanwhile, MIFTAH project coordinator Hanan Saeed said the roundtable discussion was part of MIFTAH’s efforts to support women and youth participation in formulating policies and decisions. She also said it is part of the organization’s program for policy dialogue and good governance and part of the project “My voice, my right to change and expression” which MIFTAH is implemnting in cooperation with the CEC and funded by the EU, the project aimsat supporting women candidates within LGU electoral lists. She said the main goal of the discussion was to review the 2017 election results and the challenges that effected women’s representation in these elections in addition to urging factions to increase their representation and women’s participation in their lists.