On January 25, 2006, Palestinians went to the polls to elect members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. This was only the second parliamentary election since 1996 and despite obstacles and barriers created by the ongoing Israeli occupation, the elections were, by most accounts, free and fair with approximately 76% of eligible voters participating.
The final results of the Palestinian legislative elections show a resounding victory for Hamas, which won 74 out of the 132 seats, giving them a clear majority. Fatah won 45 seats and independent candidates took 13 seats.
Much has been made of these results and Hamas' watershed victory certainly opens a new chapter in the history of the Palestinian Authority (PA). However, we should be careful to see these results for what they are. They are not a broad mandate for Hamas positions.