The United States and Fatah believe that the Hamas victory was far less sweeping than the seat total makes it appear, said Khalil Shikaki, a pollster and the director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.
In an interview in Ramallah, Mr. Shikaki said that if Fatah had forced members to withdraw their independent candidacies in constituencies where they split the votes with official Fatah candidates, it might have won the election. Half of the 132 seats were decided by a vote for a party list, and the other half by a separate vote for a local candidate.
Hamas won 44 percent of the popular vote but 56 percent of the seats, while Fatah won 42 percent of the popular vote but only 34 percent of the seats. The reason? "Fatah ran a lousy campaign," Mr. Shikaki said, and Mr. Abbas "did not force enough Fatah independents to pull out."
If only 76 "independent" Fatah candidates had not run, Mr. Shikaki said, Fatah would have won 33 seats and Hamas 33. In the districts, Hamas won an average of only 39 percent of the vote while winning 68 percent of the seats, Mr. Shikaki said.Apparently there is more to democracy than making promises you cannot keep.
"Fatah now is obsessed with undoing this election as soon as possible," he said. "Israel and Washington want to do it over too. The Palestinian Authority could collapse in six months."
A knowledge of math is helpful too.
Meanwhile, in Congress, the House of Representatives has voted to withhold aid to the PA unless Hamas "revokes" their call for the destruction of Israel.
That seems like good news, but:
1. Has the PA learned their (math) lesson?
2. Will the withholding of funds just put Hamas in a more sympathetic light? After all, Hamas killed their own people in 2 "work accidents" towards the end of last year, tried to blame it on Israel, and no one cared.
3. Will other Moslem countries come forward to make up the US shortfall?
4. If "revoking" their call for the destruction of Israel, refers to changing the Hamas Covenant--which logically would seem necessary--how much more likely is Hamas to do this than Arafat, who never actually made the change? And is the West serious enough about the change to actually insist on it--or will they settle for some vague public announcement that will be meaningless.