Sunday, October 7, 2018

Early Returns For KRG’s Parliamentary Election

(NRT)

The Election Commission announced the preliminary results from the September vote for the Kurdish parliament. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) increased its hold upon the regional government, while the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) moved back into second place due to a weak and divided opposition.

The KDP continued to be the largest party in Kurdistan. Early returns had it with 595,592 votes and 44 seats. Coming in second was the PUK with 22 seats. That was an increase from the 2013 elections when it came in third with 18 seats. Change was third with 12 seats. In the last vote it was second and took 24 seats. Back in 2009 in had 25 seats. Its decline was fostered by the death of its leader Nawshirwan Musafa in 2017, who left the party rudderless, plus its inability to bring about any serious change to the Kurdish government over the last few years. The other opposition parties followed with the New Generation gaining 9 seats, the Kurdistan Islamic Group with 7, and Towards Reform with 5. The fact that the opposition ran with so many parties instead of uniting as one undermined its position. The same thing happened in May’s national vote. Personal differences and rivalries have cut into the oppositions ability to gain political power.

Preliminary KRG Election Results
Party
Votes
Seats
2013 Results
KDP
595,592
44
38
PUK
287,575
22
18
Change
164,575
12
24
New Generation
113,297
9
-
Kurdistan Islamic Group
94,992
7
6
Towards Reform
69,477
5
-

The election returns along with the aftermath of the 2017 independence referendum has emboldened the KDP. The party is still stinging from the failed vote last year, which cost Kurdistan control of Kirkuk, other disputed areas, and nearly half of its oil revenues. Not only that, but it accused the PUK of betrayal for making a deal with Baghdad to withdraw from Kirkuk and other territories. Bitterness over that affair and its first place finish led the KDP to run its own candidate for the Iraqi presidency against the PUK. Now some KDP officials are talking about punishing the PUK when the new Kurdistan Regional Government is put together, and changing the nature of the alliance between the two. The PUK is completely unwilling to give up its share of Kurdistan. If the KDP follows through with its threats, the region could revert back to the 1990s when the two major parties ran separate administrations.

When the new government is formed in Baghdad there could be more signs of whether the KDP and PUK are moving further apart or not. If they don’t provide a united front in negotiations for ministries and positions like what happened over the presidency that might not only be a step away from ethnosectarian politics as usual, but a further erosion of the ties between the two parties.

SOURCES

NRT, “IHERC Announces Preliminary Results Of Kurdistan Parliamentary Election,” 10/4/18

Rudaw, “PUK seeks ‘real partnership’ in government as KDP threatens exclusion,” 10/6/18

Tahir, Rawaz, Hussein, Mohammed, Kullab, Samya and Van Heuveln, Ben, “Analysis: Salih’s victory shakes Kurdistan’s political landscape,” Iraq Oil Report, 10/5/18


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