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Saturday, January 28, 2006
How Not to React to an Electoral Defeat
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:43 pm

Via Reuters: Gunmen storm Palestinian parliament

Firing into the air,
Fatah gunmen and police stormed Palestinian parliament buildings on Saturday in growing unrest after their long-dominant party’s crushing election defeat by Hamas Islamists.

[…]

Turmoil since the parliamentary election landslide has fueled fears of inter-Palestinian strife as Hamas tries to form a government and possibly take over security forces packed with Fatah loyalists at odds with the Islamic militants.

Thousands of gunmen from President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah held protests across the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, many firing automatic rifles into the air.

They took over parliament in the West Bank city of Ramallah for about 20 minutes, shouting demands from the roof before descending peacefully. Fatah militants and police also seized the parliament building in the Gaza Strip.

One of the signs of a maturing/mature democracy is when the party in power is able to graciously accept being the loser of an election (and, likewise, that the winner is able to win graciously). My finely trained political science sense tells me that almost anything that involves “thousands of gunmen” does not qualify as accepting defeat with grace. I am especially certain that taking over the parliament for twenty minutes with said guns isn’t winning with grace.

The irony here is that there has been all this hand-wringing over Hamas and now Fatah’s members are running amuck.

We are still early in this process, so conclusions cannot be reached, but this quite clearly isn’t the kind of behavior we want to see.

And an area to watch: the P.A. security forces:

In a message clearly aimed at Hamas, Palestinian Authority police commander Ala Hosni said the Islamist group would not be in charge of security forces because they came under the authority of President Abbas.

“The security institution is the only guarantee to prevent sedition and civil war. Civil war began in Somalia after the collapse of the army and security institutions,” Hosni said.

An armed political party is antithetical to proper state formation, let alone to democratic norms.

Filed under: Global Politics, Middle East, Elections | |Send TrackBack

2 Comments »

  1. In this case, the armed political party is Hamas. The P.A. security forces are not Fatah forces per se (though, practically speaking, they may as well be), but national security forces.

    In any case, the underlying problem is “politics via force,” which is definitely a problem — all over the Middle East.

    Comment by Scott Gosnell — Monday, January 30, 2006 @ 9:13 am

  2. I didn’t mean to infer otherwise. It ws Fatah that was engaged in the “protests” but when it comes to the security forces problem, Hamas presents a serious conundrum.

    I would expect, however, that much of the current PA security force derived from Fatah members, which adds another layer to the problem.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, January 30, 2006 @ 9:54 am

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