​​​​​​​Iraqi Kurdistan parliamentary elections to be postponed, official says 

​​​​​​​Iraqi Kurdistan parliamentary elections to be postponed, official says 
Parliamentary elections in the Iraqi Kurdistan region might be delayed amid ongoing rivalry among the Kurdish political parties.
4 min read
12 June, 2022
An Iraqi Kurdish woman casts her ballot for the parliamentary election at a polling station in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, on September 30, 2018 (Getty Images)

Parliamentary elections in the Iraqi Kurdistan region (IKR) that were previously scheduled for October first will be postponed, a Kurdish official told The New Arab on Sunday.

“All the Kurdish political parties that participated in a meeting on Thursday, June 9, agreed on the point that the Kurdistan region’s upcoming parliamentary elections could not be held in October,” Yassin Hama Ali, head of elections room at the Kurdish Movement of Change (Gorran) and a participant of the meeting, told TNA in a phone interview.

“During the meeting, it was decided to form a secretariat from the Kurdistan Region Presidency (KRP) in coordination with the UNAMI elections team to oversee and facilitate negotiations among the political parties to reach a solution by July 1, 2022.”

The meeting was supervised by the Kurdistan Region Presidency, and was attended by Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

Plasschaert previously headed a meeting with top officials from the Kurdish political parties in Erbil on 26 May in a bid to reach an agreement on the upcoming elections. 

"After the discussion and exchange of views, all the participants agreed on the importance of holding a successful election in a way that the Kurdistan Region’s national interests and the process of democracy should be given the highest priority," read a statement by the Kurdistan Region Presidency. 

"The Presidency of the Region will continue its efforts to solve the problems facing the election law ,” the statement added.

Hama Ali also said that Plasschaert has cautioned Kurdish officials that should the political process in the Iraqi Kurdistan region reache a deadlock, the region’s credibility of being a democracy would face questioning from the international community.  

Key issues are impeding the chances of actually holding the elections on the designated date, including, most political parties in the region, including the ruling the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Change Movement, both of which are requesting the Kurdistan Parliament to amend the election law to divide the region into at least four electoral constituencies, dividing the quota of the minorities among the region’s four provinces. 

Hama Ali stressed that in order to hold a fair election in Iraqi Kurdistan, amending the election’s law is a “must”, but the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has so far been “against all those suggestions by the other parties," he said.

“The KDP insists that the upcoming elections be held with the decades-old election law and the region’s election commission that its mandate by the parliament has already expired,” he added.  

The Kurdistan parliament includes 111 seats; women have a minimum quota of 30 percent, while 11 seats are allocated for parties that represent minority groups. The KDP, which has dominated the support of 11 lawmakers from the minorities, is a kingmaker in the parliament.

In a tweet, UNAMI said the “UN participated in meeting KR political parties, organised by KR President. Discussions focused on elections, incl. e-day, constituencies, voter registration + KIHEC.

"A committee, in which the UN will participate, continues consultations," noting final agreements are expected before 1 July.

Handren Mohammed, the head of the Kurdistan Independent High Electoral and Referendum Commission, told The New Arab: “We have not yet formally asked for a new date for the elections.

A newly electoral commission, that has yet to be mandated by the Kurdistan parliament, could oversee the upcoming election run on time if the commission is active and sets a good electoral plan, he added.

The last parliamentary election, held in September 2018, witnessed a low turnout of 57% and was marred with alleged large-scale voter fraud by KDP and the PUK - the two main rival parties that have their own armed and security forces.

These have been accused of often exploiting government institutions for partisan election campaigns. 

On February 24, Nechirvan Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan region from the KDP, signed a decree in which he identified October 1 as the date for holding the region’s 6th round of parliamentary elections.