From the Toronto Star:
RAMALLAH, West Bank- If the plan was simply to wet its toes in the churning waters of Palestinian democracy, Hamas must brace for a shock. Ready or not, the militant Islamic group now finds itself plunging head first into the deep end.
Quite possibly, it will form the government.
According to a succession of startling public opinion polls, the race for Wednesday’s first truly competitive election the Palestinians have ever known is now a coin toss, with a surging Hamas in a statistical dead heat with the fragmented and corruption-riddled Fatah party founded by the late Yasser Arafat.
The most sobering numbers came Friday, in a survey of 1001 voters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre, showing support for Fatah sliding to 32.3 per cent, with Hamas at 30.2 per cent. The balance of the electorate was either undecided or siding in small numbers with nine other fledgling Palestinian parties.
Any way it breaks down, Palestinians are about to open their 132-seat legislature for the first time to the hard fist of political Islam.
“It is an incredible turn of events,” says Nader Izzat Said, a political analyst at Ramallah’s Birzeit University.
“Running for the first time, Hamas did not even ponder such an outcome. They wanted to do well, but not this well.
“Their idea was to sit in opposition, where Hamas can play the role of God-given saints that do no wrong. But the momentum is now carrying them beyond, and it is driven by impossibly high expectations. They will have to ask themselves how they can possibly deliver.”…
Yes, I suppose the populace will want to see Israel destroyed the day after the election. What’s a terrorist to do? So much destruction, so little time….