Wednesday, May 28, 2014

PUK Makes Comeback In Kurdish Provincial Elections But With Charges Of Fraud

After coming in third place in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Parliamentary Elections in 2013, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) finished second in the region’s provincial balloting. Kurdish local voting took place at the same time as Iraqis chose their new parliament on April 30, 2014. This did not occur without controversy however as the other major parties all accused the PUK of fraud. This would be quite a comeback if the results are finalized, but the charges of cheating may hang over the party and make it an empty victory in the end.
The PUK came in a surprising 2nd in Kurdistan's 2014 provincial elections

In May 2014 the Iraqi Election Commission released the results of the Kurdish provincial elections with some surprising results. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) came in first place with 34 seats total, after winning in its strongholds of Irbil, 12 seats, and Dohuk, 19 seats, and placing third in Sulaymaniya with 3 seats. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) finished second with 19 seats, 6 in Irbil, 2 in Dohuk, and a surprising 11 in Sulaymaniya. The Change List won 17 seats with 4 in Irbil, 1 in Dohuk, and 12 in Sulaymaniya. The two main Islamic parties, the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) came in with 6 and 4 seats respectively. The major change was the comeback of the PUK. In the 2013 Kurdish parliamentary vote it got 350,500 votes, but was able to gain over 175,000 this year with a total of 528,122. That increase didn’t seem to come at the expense of either the KPD or Change that both saw increases from 2013 to 2014.

Complete Election Results 2014 Kurdish Provincial Elections By Governorate
KDP 12 seats
PUK 6 seats
Change 4 seats
KIG 2 seats
KIU 1 seat
Turkmen Front 1 seat
Irbil Turkmen List 1 seat
Democratic Movement of Turkmenistan 1 seat
Chaldean-Assyrian Popular Council 1 seat
Shalama Kyian 1 seat
Change 12 seats
PUK 11 seats
KDP 3 seats
KIU 3 seats
KIG 2 seats
Rafidain 1 seat
National Alliance of Kurdistan 1 seat
KDP 19 seats
KIU 3 seats
PUK 2 seats
Change 1 seat
Rafidain 1 seat
Chaldean-Assyrian Popular Council 1 seat
Eshkhan Malkon Sarkisian 1 seat

Vote Comparison 2009-2014 Kurdish Elections
Reform and Services

Seat Totals Major Parties Kurdistan Provincial Elections 2014

There are two main explanations for the PUK’s gain in the balloting. The first is that after its humiliating defeat in the 2013 election where it came in third place behind the KDP and Change the PUK went all out to rally its base to get out the vote. That could have definitely happened as the party was shocked by its poor showing, and did not want to go through that again as it would have been a sure sign that it was on the decline. On the other hand, the KDP, Change, the KIU and the KIG all issued statements about vote rigging in Sulaymaniya. Change officials elaborated by saying that their election observers reported that they should have gotten around 376,000 votes, not the 359,000 they got in Sulaymaniya, which would have led to 13 instead of 12 seats. The Election Commission supported some of these charges. It seized 60 ballot boxes in Sulaymaniya, 20 in Irbil, and 27 in Dohuk for alleged tampering. The majority of those taken were linked to the PUK. More serious examples against the PUK have been rumored. It’s likely that both of these events happened. PUK followers did come out in force to try to save the party from political oblivion, while its leadership orchestrated a campaign to fix the vote in Sulaymaniya to ensure that no matter what it would come in first place there. It is now up to the Election Commission to investigate the matter.

The 2013 governorate level elections in Kurdistan were significant for a number of reasons. First, the regional government had postponed the balloting again and again. They had not been held in eight years. That was because the provincial councils had little power, and therefore the ruling parties chose to ignore them in the name of maintaining the status quo. That might all change as the councils now elect the governors instead of the Interior Ministry. That may give them new authority within the region. Third, the new local governments will include the Change List and its reformist agenda. That means that a new understanding has to be created between it and the KPD and PUK. Finally, that could be jeopardized if the Election Commission discovers serious cheating by the PUK. That will lead to more accusations and mistrust between Change and PUK, which has been going on for the last several years. That could jeopardize the much coveted stability that the PUK and KDP have attempted to forge in Kurdistan.


Bas News, “IHEC warns of electoral fraud in Kurdistan Region,” 5/3/14

Hassan, Hayman, “iraq votes 2014: kurdish couldn’t care less about general elections,” Niqash, 4/17/14

Knights, Michael and McCarthy, Eamon, “Provincial Politics in Iraq, Fragmentation or New Awakening?” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 2008

Kurdistan Regional Government, “Electoral Commission announces final results of Kurdistan Region elections,” 8/8/09

Al Masalah, “Gorran rejects election results announced by the commission,” 5/22/14

MESOP, “SOUTH KURDISTAN (IRAQ) MESOP : FULL – Result of Kurdistan Region provincial council announced,” 5/22/14

Al Rafidayn, “Four Kurdish parties accuse political entity “known” rigging the election results in Sulaymaniyah,” 5/17/14

Rudaw, “2014 Provincial Elections”

Shafaq News, “Change First then PUK and KDP in provincial elections in Sulaimaniyah,” 5/22/14
- “KDP first then PUK in Provincial Council elections in Erbil,” 5/22/14
- “KDP the First , Islamic Union the second and PUK the third in Dahuk’s provincial elections,” 5/22/14
- “PUK responds to the “four parties”: We have documents also,” 5/17/14


Anonymous said...

What was percentage turnout ?

Joel Wing said...

Hi Marc,

Never saw any articles that gave turnout % overall.

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