Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations has issued an Arabic academic paper entitled; “An Analytical Reading of the Results of Student Council Elections in the West Bank 2005–2023,” by Dr. Ashraf Badr.
The study aims to analyze and conduct a comparative study of the results of the student council elections in five main universities in the West Bank (WB); An-Najah National University, Birzeit University, Bethlehem University, Hebron University and Palestine Polytechnic University, covering the 2005–2023 period, which coincides with the presidency of Mahmud ‘Abbas.
The study is based on a main hypothesis that student council elections in WB may not necessarily reflect the voting trends of the general population, and the results could be influenced by the surrounding political events.
The 2023 elections in the major WB universities revealed variations in the results of student blocs affiliated with the two major movements (Fatah and Hamas). While the elections at Bethlehem University, Polytechnic University, and Hebron University showed a victory for the Shabiba Student Movement affiliated with Fatah, the Islamic bloc affiliated with Hamas outperformed in the elections at Birzeit University and An-Najah National University. This raises questions about the extent to which student council elections represent the broader sentiments of the WB population, especially given the absence of any general elections, whether presidential or parliamentary, in Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled areas for about two decades.
The paper concludes that the results of student elections do not necessarily represent the opinion of the entire WB population but rather reflect the views of a specific segment of Palestinian society. However, these results are also influenced by the surrounding political conditions. At times, Shabiba pays the price for the PA’s actions, while the Islamic bloc’s performance could be negatively or positively affected by the resistance’s actions in Gaza Strip.
The study indicates that each bloc’s preparedness and ability to organize its resources and activate an effective election machine could be a significant factor in influencing election results. It also pointed out that in the case of the Islamic bloc, the formation of an effective election machine capable of bearing the security costs impacts election outcomes. For the crucial factor in this case is the ability to mobilize voters’ support at the ballot boxes, a capacity possessed by Shabiba, which has an operation room that effectively and systematically manages elections, involving security agencies and organizational regions of the Fatah movement.
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By: Dr. Ashraf Badr (Exclusively for al-Zaytouna Centre).