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Hamas victory and democracy
by Satya Prakash
Issue 12
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The shock waves, which came with the results of Palestinian election in ten years, were not limited to West Asia but transcended continents and countries. Most of the western nations and obviously Israel have expressed 'serious' concerns with Islamist Hamas group getting majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The election which was held on 25th January saw 75% of voters casting the ballot. Out of the 132 seats, Hamas group won 76 seats thereby getting a majority in the council. The results precipitated the condition of west Asia with comments going back and forth between Hamas and political leadership of Israel.

There is also a view that Palestine was too immature for democracy as they elected a terrorist group. On careful analysis, I don't seem to agree with this. When the turn out is 75%, which is much higher than the turnout in mature democracies like India, it shows strong resolve of people for choosing their own government. In this particular election, the mandate is not as much for Hamas as it is against the incumbent Fatah party.

In the last ten years, Fatah group has been taken over by corrupt leaders and the legislative council failed to do anything worthwhile to improve the condition of common Palestinians. There was no other option but Hamas. If there is question over democracy then it is not due to Hamas but due to Fatah.

Most of the average Palestinians don't agree to the extremist policies of Hamas. They are in favor of negotiation with Israel and ties with world community. No doubt the principle of Hamas has been extremism; it considers creation of Palestine as its religious duty and it also does not recognize Israel. Until the election results were declared even Hamas would not have dreamt of such land slide victory. At most it would have thought of emerging as some consequential group and to wield influence over the new government.

A Hamas in government would be much different than Hamas till now. It is going to be subdued in its policy of extremism under the yoke of the immense responsibility of running a country heavily dependant on foreign aid. Political feelers are already being sent out by Hamas leadership for negotiation over foreign aid. The exiled political head of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, in Damascus has talked of adopting a realistic approach over Palestinian authority and to work with Europe and US.

It is not the opportune time to come out with charged statements but of giving Hamas time to settle down and take cognizance of ground situation. Who knows the Palestine situation may be solved for good during the Hamas rule. It would then be the finest example of same democracy, which is being questioned now.

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