RAMALLAH, Palestine 

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections in Palestine, two estranged leaders of Fatah have decided to contest polls together independent of the parent party.

The newly formed National Democratic Forum led by Naser al-Qudwa negotiated an electoral arrangement with Fadwa Barghouti, wife of iconic jailed leader Marwan Barghouti, queering the pitch for the Fatah, the dominant faction in the ruling Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Nasser Al-Qudwa, who will lead the coalition as per the arrangement was expelled from Fatah in early March for his attempt to field a separate list of candidates.

With this new alliance in the fray, three lists from the Fatah have joined the contest that includes the official list headed by Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy leader of Fatah, the Qudwah-Barghouti coalition, and the list of Abu Dhabi-based sacked leader Mohamed Dahlan.

Many political experts see that the conversion of Fatah from a movement to an authoritarian party, where power has centered around its leader Mahmoud Abbas.

“This coalition is a reflection of policy errors that made by the influential leaders over past years, which has led to a deterioration of the party situation,” said Sari Orabi, a writer and political analyst.

“Fatah failed to attend to its problems and wrong policies in the sixth and seventh conferences. As a result, these political factions are not strange, either historically neither logically,” Orabi added.

Experts believe that these estranged leaders contesting elections independently have thrown the toughest challenge to Fatah, more than when Dahlan fractured it a few years ago.

Barghouti’s substantial following inside Fatah and Qudwa’s political acumen makes it a perfect coalition to challenge the main Fatah in the polls. Experts believe that his alliance has chances of winning a good number of seats and may align with other lists of Hamas to claim power.

“These factors may lead to President Abbas to think seriously to delay the elections since Fatah has poor chances as compared to Hamas. These poor chances are due to the continuous internal conflict in Fatah,” said Bilal Shobaki, associate professor at Hebron University.

The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections are supposed to be held on May 22. According to the Central Elections Commissions (CEC), so far 36 electoral lists have submitted applications for nomination.

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