Almost 4700 candidates are running for local office in 94 cities and villages in the territories that comprise the Palestinian Authority, and close to a quarter of them are women. The elections — the first in at least six years — are expected to take place this Saturday and for the first time there are quotas that set aside one of every five municipal council seats for a woman. Among the many campaigns, two parties are putting forth all-female lists of candidates, possibly the first ever seen in the Arab world.
What’s the Big Idea?
The noise surrounding the upcoming elections masks a deep skepticism about the process and politics in general. A poll conducted in September claims that “50 percent of West Bankers did not plan to vote, and 43 percent said the elections would not be fair; nearly half did not believe that the balloting would ultimately take place.” Traditional views against women running for office still hold sway as well. In Hebron, where the Participation party is running its all-female ticket, candidate Maysoun Qawasmi knows a victory is a long shot, but she insists on running because “the woman needs help, but she can’t…raise her voice. I will shout.”