Student Debate Questions Independence of Elections Commission

The Birzeit University student debate forum, in cooperation with Ibrahim Abu Lughod Institute of International Studies and the Central Election Commission, held its 13th debate on December 5, 2013 under the title: "Is the CEC independent in the nature of its work?”

The pro team was represented by the director of the CEC Media Unit Farid Taomallah, while the opposing team comprised two master’s students, Reem Al-Sharif and Najwa Qar'an.

The pro team said that the CEC’s independence stems from the election law, which stipulates that the CEC is a legal body that enjoys financial and administrative independence. Director Taomallah said that each employee is requested to sign a commitment to "work neutrally, impartially and conscientiously, as well as not to favor any candidate or political party and not to commit any action that harms the integrity of the electoral process or the impartiality of the CEC’s independence."

The opposing team argued, on the other hand, that  the CEC’s independence is affected by the financing it receives from foreign parties, whose agendas may not agree with the Palestinian cause.

At the end of the debate, and after listening to the questions and interventions by the audience, the pro team got 34.8% of the votes, versus 65.2% given to the opposing team. The forum’s evaluation divides equally public and jury results to determine the winner. Whereas the pro team received 43.5% of the jury votes, compared to the opposing team, which received 56.5%, 25.5% of the public’s votes were given to the pro team versus 74.5% for the opposing team.

The Debate Forum was founded in 2008 by a group of university students to promote research, debate and dialogue, based on logic, rationality, respect for other’s opinion and recognition of other's right to freedom of expression. This debate was part of a series of debates aiming to promote intellectual pluralism and argument as two vital conditions for human thought, and the embodiment of freedom of opinion and practice of democracy.