Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Turnout up in Palestinian Legislative Elections

More voters went to the polls, especially in Gaza, for the Palestinian Legislative Council elections on January 25th compared to the 2005 presidential elections. Turnout was up in almost all districts, but the consistent increase in turnout in the Gaza region suggests that Hamas may benefit from the extra turnout. Hamas has done better in preelection polling in Gaza than it has in the West Bank region. Official election results are not expected before as late as Friday. Exit polls initially suggested a small Fatah lead, but the details of the exit polls have not yet been released (as of this post.)

The data above are also preliminary-- voting was extended in East Jerusalem and voters in line were allowed to vote after poll closing in many locations. The data point for Jerusalem combines reported votes in both East Jerusalem and the Jerusalem suburbs for the 2006 election.

While Gaza experienced the most visible increase in turnout, the turnout rate was not especially related to the number of registered voters, as can be seen in the figure below.

The largest district, Hebron, actually experienced the lowest percentage voter turnout (other than Jerusalem), though its size still makes it the largest total vote of any district (as seen in the top graph). The highest percentage turnout was in Rafah and North Gaza, both above 85%. Turnout among the Security Forces, who voted over the weekend was the highest of all at 92%. Most other regions turned out between 75% and 85% of their registered voters.

The Jerusalem suburbs are notable for low turnout. Likewise, turnout figures are not available for East Jerusalem which lacks voter registration statistics. Unlike the top figure, here the Jerusalem suburbs stand alone in this figure. Because no registration is available for East Jerusalem no turnout percentage can be calculated. The current counted turnout there is 15,306 as of the 10:00 P.M. report of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission. The data can be found here. They also have a nice turnout map here.

Of course the real question is how many votes Fatah and Hamas got, and more importantly, how many seats each won. Currently estimates are varying across time and across source. Preliminary counts of votes should be available Thursday with official tallies waiting until Friday. And we are still waiting for those exit poll numbers!

Update 17:48 CST/1:48 Thursday Ramallah time:

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) has now posted its exit poll estimates here. Their estimate is Hamas 35% of the vote with 23 seats and Fatah 42% of the vote with 28 seats. Other parties take 9-10 seats with 15% of the vote. This is for the party list, based on proportional representation.

In the multi-member districts (thanks to Matthew Shugart for correcting my earlier error), the PCPSR tally stands at 31 seats for Fatah, 23 seats for Hamas, 8 seats undecided and 4 independents.

That would give Fatah 59 seats, Hamas 46, other parties and independents 13-14 and 8 still undecided. (The PCPSR web page gets this as Fatah 58, Hamas 53, but I can't get their table to add up to that count. I'll have to puzzle over this to see why we don't get the same numbers based on their results table. See for yourself here.)

Remember these are exit poll estimates! View these, and all exit polls, with suitable caution and circumspection.

I'll post separately on the exit results that are now available.