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Political Divisions Threaten to Scupper Kurdistan Parliamentary Elections

Political Divisions Threaten to Scupper Kurdistan Parliamentary Elections

Tuesday, 12 April, 2022 - 05:30
An Iraqi Kurd marches with a Kurdish flag during a protest in support of the Iraqi Kurdish leader, in Erbil, on October 30, 2017. (AFP)

The sharp divisions between Kurdish parties over the formation of the federal government in Baghdad reflect the sharp divisions in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region that is bracing to hold parliamentary elections in October.

The lingering disputes have however, cast serious doubts that the polls will be staged.

Observers believe the elections are unlikely given the major obstacles, most notably the dispute over the electoral law and the need to either extend the term of the electoral commission or form a new one. The commission's term ended two years ago.

On the electoral law, the differences center on the Kurdish Democratic Party's (KDP) insistence on holding the elections according to the current law that divides Kurdistan into three electoral districts. The KDP is backed by various small parties, such as the Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party and Communist Party of Kurdistan.

On the other end of the divide lies the so-called opposition, which includes the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), that is insisting on amending the electoral law so that it introduces several electoral districts. It is calling for adopting a law similar to the one adopted by Iraq for its October 2021 elections.

The KDP boasts 60 MPs in the 111-member Kurdish parliament, allowing it to obstruct the approvals of draft-laws, especially those related to the appointment of new members of the electoral commission or amending the electoral law.

Journalist Saman Nooh told Asharq Al-Awsat that the opposition believes that the current electoral law does not allow for fair representation at parliament. Rather, it allows the KDP to reap a comfortable majority.

He predicted that the ongoing disputes between the two camps over the electoral commission will ultimately prevent the elections from being held on time.

Moreover, parliament hardly ever convenes, which is another obstacle the forces need to overcome.

Head of the New Generation movement, Shaswar Abdulwahid appealed on Monday to the international community and federal government in Baghdad to intervene in Kurdistan and ensure that fair and transparent elections are held to end the political impasse and help the people.

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