Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Democracy Works

In the aftermath of Palestinians voting in Hamas, some commentators despaired that Muslims would never achieve freedom through democracy. But then this happens, and we can see they just as capable as we are of securing their freedom (my emphasis).

QALQILYA, West Bank -- One of the few bright spots for Fatah in last week's Palestinian elections came in this sleepy border town where Hamas swept all 15 municipal council seats eight months ago, only to lose the area's two parliamentary seats in the face of voter disappointment.

Hamas' council takeover last spring stunned Fatah and presaged last week's parliamentary elections, in which the militant Islamic movement exceeded all expectations by taking 74 seats in the 132-seat Palestinian legislature.

But after more than half a year of Hamas rule in Qalqilya, it was Fatah that carried the district's two legislative seats -- a reversal that many residents put down to disappointment with Hamas' performance to date.

"There is disappointment with Hamas," said Nidal Hanayel, who heads the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) party in Qalqilya. "The public didn't feel any improvement in the town. They didn't make good on their promises."

Mr. Hanayel said the new town council has made little progress on what it had identified as its top priority -- building new schools and hospitals. At the same time, residents resented the council's decision to ban an international dance festival last summer to prevent social mixing between women and men.

So the pessimists should cheer up - on this showing, if Hamas doesn't deliver peace & prosperity, and oppresses Palestinian women, it will go the way of all failed governments.