In January 2009 fourteen of Iraq’s eighteen provinces held provincial elections. Voting in Tamim province was indefinitely postponed because of the dispute over Kirkuk, while the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said Baghdad’s election law did not bind them. They said they would hold their own vote based upon their own legislation. In July 2009 a local election law was passed, and the region held balloting for their parliament, but there have been no provincial elections.
At the very beginning of January 2010 AK News reported that the Kurdish parliament would finally discuss parliamentary voting after the March 2010 national elections. This poses legal questions since the Kurdish councils’ terms expired in January 2009. In February the Kurdish parliament extended their powers until the end of 2009, but that now has passed as well. A consultant for the Kurdish speaker said that the passage of the provincial election law de facto extends the provincial councils’ terms until the actual balloting is held.
The main reason why the KRG’s parliament is in no rush to set an election date is probably because they are afraid of losing power to the new Kurdish opposition group, the Change List. In the July 2009 Kurdish parliamentary vote, the Change List took 23.75% of the vote, and did especially well in Sulaymaniya. Another opposition coalition, the Service and Reform List got 12.8% of the vote. Like everything else in Kurdistan, the two ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) control the governors and provincial councils. In Dohuk, the governor is from the KDP as well as 33 of the 41 seats. In Irbil, the governor is also from the KDP and they control 23 of 41 seats, and the PUK 16. Finally, in Sulaymaniya the governor and 28 of the 41 seats belong to the PUK. The KDP and PUK have been loath to share power, and prefer to co-opt and intimidate other parties. By holding off provincial elections indefinitely, they can hold onto their positions and influence.
AK News, “Only new elections can expire Provincial councils’ legal term: source,” 1/1//10
Knights, Michael and McCarthy, Eamon, “Provincial Politics in Iraq: Fragmentation or New Awakening?” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 2008
Visser, Reidar, “After Compromise on Kirkuk, Finally an Elections Law for Iraq’s Governorates,” Historiae.org, 9/24/08
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