Neither the election date nor the agreement is clear; the Parties of Kurdistan are discussing without any results

09-08-2022 03:48

PEREGRAF- Farman Sadiq

Kurdistan's political parties have been discussing for months, and the results are the same; neither do they agree on the way the elections are conducted, nor do they set a date for the process.

The last meeting of the parties on the election case was in June this year after the Kurdistan President called for mediation to bring the conflict to an end and reach an agreement, but since then the ball has remained in Nechirvan Barzani's leadership square and has not moved.

Barzani's attempt comes after the UN initiative, which gathered everyone more than once about the election without any result. it is scheduled to hold another high-stakes meeting between the parties on August 10, for the same purpose.

There are controversies over a number of points, including the election circles and the final course, along with other details that some believe will be provided with the new law and part of them are not agreeable with amending the law.

The new generation doesn't believe in conflict

The PUK and KDP's disagreement over the election for the new generation is only a "scenario" and its key goal is to "postpone the election".

"The two ruling parties are afraid of elections," said Kawa Abdulqadir, Head of the New Generation faction in the Kurdistan Parliament. "If the election was intended, it would be easy to agree, but it is not the intention and they will waste time so that it will not be done."

The Independent Election and Referendum Commission in the Kurdistan Region needs six months of preparations for each election on the day of its appointment.

"The PUK and KDP know that they are losing a lot of votes, so they are trying to postpone it under different pretexts," he said. "The political situation in Iraq and the situation in Baghdad do not prevent the region's election, which is a legal issue and should be held on time. "No elections have been held in The Kurdistan Region on time, and this is not a belief in the seizure of power."

The election has been done in Iraq for 10 months, not only is the date for the formation of the government unknown, but the streets have been rocked by protests backed by the conflicting parties, and the situation in the capital is at its most complicated.

Kurdistan Islamic Union: We're not with the postponement

"Political forces agree that another day cannot be selected until they reach an agreement. It is a shame if they choose and cannot hold elections at that time." According to Hemin Askandar, Head of the Kurdistan Islamic Union's election agency told Peregraf.

"The opposition would like to hold elections sooner," Askandar said, explaining that his party was "not with delays whatsoever", saying it could reach an agreement within a week and that it would be the responsibility of the ruling parties, not the opposition.

The Kurdistan regional government’s three main parties are Change Movement, KDP, and PUK.

Askandar explained that there are still disagreements over several points, including "dividing the region into circles or remaining in one circle, as well as some forces with the fact that the quota seats have their own record, and these two points are the most obvious points on which they differ".

Unlike Iraq, which is a multi-circle, not at the country level, but at the level of each province, elections in Kurdistan are still being held in one circle, which is rejected by the PUK, The Kurdistan Islamic Union and Change Movement, but the KDP supports it.

Hemin Askandar says the Kurdistan Islamic is with a multi-circle that includes justice and calls for a record of "political forces not to manipulate their votes and not elect their representatives so that they choose their own representatives". 

Kurdistan Justice Group is waiting for presidency action

The Justice group considers it difficult to set a new date for Kurdistan’s parliamentary elections until everyone is agreeable to the election law and there are no other conflicts.

"Taking an action is in the hand of the region’s presidency and the day of selection was unprepared for the first time, so elections cannot be held on that day," Bestun Hama-Salih, told Peregraf. "These questions must now be resolved so that another day can be determined."

In the past months, Nechirvan Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region, designated October 1, 2022, as the day of the sixth round of parliamentary elections, but the Commission officially says it cannot run the process at that time and needs more time because of the Parties’ disagreement.

Bestun says that after the Parties’ summit meeting in the region's leadership in the presence of a UN representative, a committee was formed in June for consultative discussions and only two meetings were held between the party's election commission.

"In general, there were two issues that were very contradictory in both gatherings, the electoral circles and the distribution of the quota seats, in addition to agreeing on the voter registration of Baghdad voters, however, they agreed that the statistics of the Iraqi population should be used, not the Kurdistan Region."

"There was disagreement over the quota seats, who had an opinion that they had their own record, and that they were in conflict with the distribution of their courses over the election circles again, and there was a view that they would choose one circle and that they would be divided into circles," said Kurdistan Justice official.

Of the total 111 Kurdistan Parliament seats, 11 seats are allocated to the components by the quota system, therefore, their candidates need fewer votes to be granted a seat compared to the other 100 seats, and only 11 are set for Christian, Turkmen, and Armenian minorities.

Bestun Hama Salih says elections should be held in a new system, and what exists now expired 30 days ago, "If we cannot change the election law, it must be amended to suit the current political and democratic system," he said.



KDP is concerned about the Kurdistan region’s reputation

Rebwar Babkaei, a Member of Parliament from the KDP, said that while the elections were on time to "not undermine the democratic reputation of the Kurdistan Region", some parties were not with them and that it would be the responsibility of the PUK, Change and other parties.

"Several meetings were indeed held between the KDP and PUK election commissions, but it seems that there were no results," he said, denying that they had an agreement with the PUK to amend the election law. "The law is valid and there are no issues".

The election law has been passed since 1992, and some parties without KDP and minorities are calling for a new law or amendment after the bill has been sent to Parliament for several months.

But the KDP parliamentarian believes that "this election can be done by this law and then amended because we think it is not appropriate to amend it, but it is a waste of time". "It is impossible to hold elections on October 1, 2010, which is a bitter reality and we have to accept it, and that disgrace goes back to the PUK in the first place," he said.

"They didn't want the elections to be held at their own time," said Rebwar Babkayi, who criticizes the new generation, saying that they were under the influence of the PUK’s demands on the other side. He does not know that the situation in Iraq and Baghdad will have an impact on the region and the election process.

Regarding the proposed course, which part of the parties believes they are using their votes in the interest of the KDP and are under the KDP control, so it needs a review, KDP parliamentarians said, "They have their own parties and representatives in the Kurdistan Parliament. They should present a statement to themselves, and our position as a Party is based on defending the rights of the parties... to increase their seats, not to be cut down...We are with any request that the rights of the parties be protected."

PUK: Postponement is better than bad law elections

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK, agrees to postpone the voting process for a while so that it can be better run by law, not on time and by bad law.

"We don't want to be elected by the law passed 30 years ago, and we want an election that is in the level of people's expectation and that their votes are protected," said Ziad Jabbar, Head of the PUK faction in the Kurdistan Parliament told Peregraf.

The PUK has 21 seats, with more than 30 other parties on the front line against 45 KDP seats and small parties.

Ziad says they have proposed that the election law be amended by a national compromise, so that few of its rights can be resolved and that they are prevented from cheating, "Eight meetings have been held at the parliamentary level and we have not reached a conclusion. Now the PUK and the majority of the political forces have presented a joint project to the Parliament and we are asking for a compromise."

One of the possibilities before Parliament is to extend its life so that it does not fall into legal space due to the delay in the election.

"If we can agree on an amendment to the law, the election could be postponed for a few months," said the Head of the PUK faction, who believes the Events in Iraq have an impact, and that the agreement in the region would have been easier if they had agreed with the KDP on the republic's presidency.

The PUK and KDP, similar to the Iraqi side, have not agreed for months on the post of President of the Republic, which has Kurdish merits and each has separate candidates.

Is Change with Which?

The Change Movement considers it necessary for Kurdistan to be multi-circle; voter registration to be cleaned and the Commission to be active, which is similar to the views of the PUK and parties outside the KDP.

Kerzan Gardi, Head of the Change Movement's Election Commission in Erbil, did not hide that there were still disputes over the election circle issue, the reactivation of the Commission, voter registration, the quota seat issue and special elections, but the conflict was based on "the circle of elections, the Commission and the quota seat".

Change is still waiting for the party's meeting to resume after the Eid al-Adha holiday, where a final decision on the fate of the election date will be made.

"They should have their own real representatives, which is another point of disagreement," Gardi said.

Jenin Blaskhart, the UN Secretary-General's Representative in Iraq, held two meetings with the region's political parties to reach an agreement on the election, in addition to dozens of differences between the parties without outside mediation.

The quota seats are the barriers

According to Aram Jamal, a researcher, and expert in the field of elections, the key obstacle to not holding elections is the 11 quota seats of the election.

"The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) agrees to use the registration of Iraqi voters, and the Kurdistan Region agrees to be multi-circled, provided that the quota seats are not manipulated," Aram explained to Peregraf that if other parties insist on the quota seats, the Party will not agree on other points that have shown softness.

In the 30 years of the Kurdistan Regional Government and after the first election, no Kurdistan election process has been conducted on its legal and specified date.

The fifth parliamentary election was delayed by a year and was held in September 2018, and the age of the term will be confirmed this year.

Aram Jamal says the political forces in power are ready to elect when the election law is in their interest and their situation is good, "If they know that their situation is not good, the best thing they can get their hands on is the day of the parliamentary election and postpone it, which is an illegal and illegitimate step."

It was also announced that according to the information and agreement of the PUK and KDP, the parliamentary election is scheduled to take place on May 19, 2023, but the appointment of that day is not concrete and the situation in Iraq and the region will affect it, said Aram Jamal.

The population of The Kurdistan Region, which is home to about 6 million people in Erbil, Sulaimaniyah, Duhok, and Halabja provinces, has the right to vote every four years under the law.