Skip to main content

Iraqi Kurdistan to hold parliamentary elections in 10 June

Iraqi Kurdistan region reschedules oft-delayed parliamentary elections for June 
5 min read
05 March, 2024
A spokesperson for Iraq's electoral commission told The New Arab that it had made all the preparations to conduct the Kurdistan region's general vote in time. 
The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) supervises the parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan region. [Getty]

After being delayed several times and under pressure from Iraq's top court, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq will hold parliamentary elections on June 10.

Nechirvan Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region, issued a decree on Sunday, 3 March, by which parliamentary elections in the region will be held on 10 June.

"In accordance with the second paragraph of Article 10 of the Presidency Law No. 1 of 2005, as amended, President Nechirvan Barzani has decided that the general elections for the sixth term of the Kurdistan Parliament will take place on June 10th, 2024," a statement on Barzani's official website said. "As per the decree, all relevant parties are required to collaborate with the Independent High Electoral Commission to ensure the smooth implementation of this decision. The decree is effective immediately, and all necessary measures must be taken from today upon its issuance."

The vote should elect both a parliament and then the parliament would elect a president for the Kurdish region, which gained self-rule in a popular uprising in 1991 after the former Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. 

Live Story

Iraq's Federal Supreme Court had on 31 May 2023 ruled against extending the term of the Kurdistan region's parliament as contrary to the country's constitution, declaring the Kurdish legislature as terminated and ordering the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to supervise fresh general elections in the region. 

Originally slated for October 2022, the poll was rescheduled to November due to disagreements among political parties regarding the election law.

Fresh elections were scheduled for 25 February but were delayed due to legal and political issues, Kurdish officials and Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) previously told The New Arab

On Monday, Jumana Al-Ghalay, IHEC's spokesperson, said to TNA, "IHEC has made all preparations and ready to conduct the Kurdistan region's parliamentary elections on the scheduled date, 10 June, according to international standards."

She also said that no obstacles will hinder conducting the elections in time, indicating that "IHEC would work to conduct the vote within their legal term fairly and transparently."

Live Story

She stressed that the commission has initiated registering the voters biometrically and will soon open the door for registering the political entities and electoral lists. She stated that the number of eligible voters is three million,789000, and 360, from which nearly three million have registered their names at IHEC, including 60,000 youths eligible to vote for the first time.

TNA spoke with many Kurds and asked their opinions about the upcoming elections. While some said they were optimistic that the vote this time would lead to important changes in the political map in the region, others were pessimistic that elections in Iraq, in general, and in the Kurdistan region, in particular, would not lead to positive changes.  

"I would cast my ballot and think this time the vote would lead to radical changes because the chances of making voter frauds is less than from what we saw in the past elections," a young Kurdish voter told TNA, preferring not to be named. 

 Iraq's Supreme Federal Court last month made several amendments to the Kurdistan region's election Law 1 of 1992 and ruled that the Kurdistan region's parliament consists of 100 lawmakers, terminating the existence of eleven quota seats for the minorities as "unconstitutional". Iraq's top court decisions are final and binding for all authorities nationwide.

The court terminated the seats allocated for the Turkmen, Christians and Armenian minorities in the region that have been enacted in the legislature since 1992. 

"I will boycott the upcoming election, and I did not cast my vote previously because I am sceptical about elections changing anything in the Kurdistan region," Hawsar Othman, a Kurdish lawyer, remarked to TNA.  

The parliamentary election, held in September 2018, witnessed a low turnout of 57% and was marred by alleged large-scale voter fraud by the two main rival parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
The recent decision by Iraq's top court stemmed from lawsuits filed by politicians from PUK, challenging the constitutionality of the Kurdish region's election law. 

The KDP is often accused by the PUK and the opposition parties of manipulating the minority's quota to claim the majority in the parliament. In all past elections held in the region, all minority seats were allocated to Erbil province, while there are minority populations in other Kurdish provinces.

TNA contacted officials from the election bureaus of some Kurdish political parties, including the KDP, but they were either not ready to speak for the media or unavailable.  

The KDP Political Bureau on 22 February described the decision by Iraq's top court as "contrary to the spirit of the constitution and the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region and the principles of federalism."

 The court also revoked Article 9  of the region's election law, which asserted that the Kurdistan region constitutes a single electoral constituency as "unconstitutional." The court mandated the division of the region into "at least four electoral constituencies."

Additionally, the court decided that all political parties and entities must reserve a quota for women, comprising no less than thirty per cent of their total number of election candidates. This quota is to be enforced after the parliament elections.