If America can have a presidential candidate pulled from a hit reality show (ahem, “The Apprentice”) so can… Palestine. Enter the Palestinian reality show “The President” in which an audience votes for their favorite would-be leader, and last June, they picked and the winner was 24-year-old Waad Qannam. According to NPR, “he is the closest Palestinians have come to electing a leader in more than a decade.” And yes, this is fiction but still, it holds some cultural weight and meaning.
Mr. Qanam, who hails from East Jerusalem, explains, “I felt that that moment was the key to giving the youth a chance to participate in Palestinian politics. ’The President’ sends a very strong message to the [Palestinian] leadership and says, there is a real need for the democratic process. The second message that it gives is the interest on the part of the youth to participate in making their ideas heard.”
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 70% of Palestinians are under 30, and many says they are “politically starved,” frustrated by the lack of elections, and political and economical developments in the region.
On October 8th, Palestinians are scheduled to hold their first contested elections in 11 years — 416 spots are on the ballot for local councils which help elect mayors and local officials. What’s not on the docket are future plans for either a Palestinian legislative or presidential election. That said, one can be sure the hit show “The President” will be returning to Palestine, next season.