Al-Haq has concluded the monitoring of the first phase of the 2021 local elections which commenced on 11 December 2021, in the West Bank Governorates. On 6 September 2021, the Palestinian Council of Ministers issued decision No. 123/18 of 2021, which provides for holding the first phase of the local elections in (387) localities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including the localities that are classified as (C) and village councils. It was later decided that the local elections will not be held in Gaza (11 localities) during the first phase, as to be included in the second phase, which will take place on 26 March 2021. Thus, the total number of polling localities in the West Bank reached (376). Under the decision of the Council of Ministers No. 126/18 of 2021, issued on 27 September 2021, the second phase of the local elections will take place in (66) localities; including (55) localities classified as (A) and (B) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, alongside the localities that are classifies as (C) in the Gaza Strip.
Al-Haq efforts were focused on monitoring and observing the polling process in a number of localities through the West Bank, since the opening of the ballot boxes until the end of the polling process and counting the votes. In this regard, Al-Haq has monitored a number of infringements and violations that were committed during the polling day, by the candidates and the staff of the Central Elections Committee (CEC), contrary to the Local Council Elections Law, its complementary legislations, and the CEC instructions. Thus, Al-Haq has submitted more than (80) written complaints to the CEC, which the later has addressed seriously, promptly and in a professional manner by taking some measures to address these violations.
Towards the end of the polling day, the violations that were recorded by Al-Haq included: carrying the election campaigns on the polling day in front of the polling centers, having a number of candidates present inside the polling centers trying to influence the voters’ decisions, in addition to some violations related to the electoral procedures of illiterate people, which violates the Local Council Elections Law and the CEC instructions. Al-Haq also documented a number of violations regarding the non-compliance with preventive measures against Covid-19 that were announced by the CEC, and in some cases the staff of the CEC did not follow the electoral procedures like putting the election ink on the voters’ fingers, amongst other complaints that were handled by the CEC.
During the monitoring of the polling process, some election centers witnessed issues and clashes between the voters themselves or between the candidates and their deputies, which required the intervention of the Palestinian Police present in the election centers, that in many cases was able to handle the situation and solve the issue with high professionality.
For the purpose of evaluating the election process, Al-Haq is preparing a thorough monitoring report on the course of the first phase of the 2021 local elections, in which it will address all the infringements and violations that were committed during the polling process and the manner the CEC handled them. Some relevant recommendations will also be made to ensure continuous transparency and impartiality of the second phase of the local elections, to be held by the end of March 2022, as well as to take the necessary legal action against all those who violate the provisions of the law.