Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Complete 2013 Kurdistan Regional Government Election Results

After dealing with the complaints of several parties Iraq’s Election Commission finally announced the full results of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) 2013 parliamentary elections. As the preliminary counts revealed there has been a sea change amongst the Kurdish voters. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which has jointly run the region since the 1990s has fallen out of favor to the benefit of the opposition Change List, the Kurdistan Islamic Union, and the Kurdistan Islamic Group. The issue now is whether those parties will be able to gain meaningful positions in the government, be co-opted by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which will put their own futures in doubt or remain outside of the administration.

The final results of the September 21, 2013 Kurdish parliamentary elections showed how the electorate had changed. Coming in first place was the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) with 743,984 votes, 37.79% of the total, giving them 38 seats. The KDP has tried to become the majority party in the KRG. It failed to achieve that, but has come out the dominant one. Second place went to the Change List with 476,736 votes (24.21%), and 24 seats. It has been one of the three opposition parties that have called for political and economic reform of the KRG. It was the main beneficiary of the demise of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which garnered 350,500 votes (17.8%), and 18 seats. The PUK decided to run separately from its ruling partner the KDP this year, and found out just how far it had fallen in the public’s eye. Next were the Islamic parties. The Kurdistan Islamic Union got 186,741 votes (9.49%) and 10 seats, the Kurdistan Islamic Group had 118,399 votes (6.01%) and 6 seats, followed by the Kurdistan Islamic Movement with 21,834 votes (1.1%) and 1 seat. To finish off the 100 seats available were the Kurdistan Democratic Socialist Party, the Communist Party, and the Third Trend Toilers Party with 1 seat each. There were also 11 seats set aside for minorities. The 5 Turkmen positions went to the Turkmen Development List with 2 seats, Irbil Turkmen List with one seat, the Turkmen Reform List with one seat, and the Turkmen Front with one seat. There were five Christian quota seats going to the Mesopotamia List with two seats, the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Assembly with two, and the Sons of Mesopotamia with one. Finally there was one seat for Armenians as well, which went to Barwan Isan Mergoz Batros. Of the new legislators 77 will be men and 34 will be women. 13 of the latter won seats without the quota system for female lawmakers. In 2009, the KDP and PUK ran together as the Kurdish List. They won 57%of the vote for 59 seats, splitting them between them with the KDP receiving 30 and the PUK 29. Together the two parties won 55.59% of the vote this year, and were able to garner 56 seats between them. The fact that the numbers were almost the same, but the PUK got crushed, showed that the KDP was not only able to hold onto but expand its base. The Change List slightly increased its standing going from 23.75% of the vote in 2009 to 24.21%, but ironically that cost them one seat going from 25 to 24. The Kurdistan Islamic Union and Kurdistan Islamic Group also saw increases. In 2009 they ran with secular parties in the Service and Reform List, which did not last past the vote. That year the coalition came out with 12.8% of the votes with the Islamic Union gaining 6 seats and the Islamic Group 4. In 2013 the two Islamist parties saw a sizeable increase with 15.5% of the vote leading to the Islamic Union receiving 10 seats, and the Islamic Group 6. The KDP has been able to hold onto its base in Dohuk and Irbil, while the PUK has severely dropped off in Sulaymaniya. The party is currently leaderless with President Jalal Talabani being hospitalized in Germany since December 2012, and facing increasing internal struggles. The party has held several high-level meetings to reflect upon its loss, but no major changes have been announced so far. Due to Talabani’s absence and the increasing divisions within the party, none may come for quite some time. The opposition parties Change, the Islamic Union, and the Islamic Group have all taken advantage of this situation.

2009 vs. 2013 KRG Election Results
Kurdistan List (KDP + PUK) 30 seats (69.5%)
38 seats (37.79%)
29 seats
18 seats (17.8%)
25 seats (23.75%)
24 seats (24.21%)
Kurdistan Islamic Union
Service & Reform List (KIU, KIG, Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party, Future Party)
6 seats (12.8%)
10 seats (9.49%)
Kurdistan Islamic Group
4 seats
6 seats (6.01%)
Kurdistan Islamic Movement
2 seats (1.45%)
1 seat (1.1%)
Kurdistan Democratic Socialist Party
? seats
1 seat (0.6%)
Social Justice and Freedom List (Communists, Toilers, others) ? seats (0.82%)
1 seat (0.6%)
Third Trend Toilers Party
? seats
1 seat (0.4%)
Turkmen Quota Seats

Turkmen Democratic Movement
3 seats (0.99%)

Turkmen Development List
2 seats (0.2%)
Turkmen Reform List
1 seat (0.38%)
1 seat (0.09%)
Irbil Turkmen List
1 seat (0.21%)
1 seat (0.09%)
Turkmen Front
1 seat (0.08%)
Christian Quota Seats

Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Assembly
3 seats (0.58%)
2 seats (0.2%)
Mesopotamia List
2 seats (0.3%)
2 seats (0.3%)
Sons of Mesopotamia

1 seat
Armenian Quota Seat

Aram Shahine Dawood Bakoyan
1 seat (0.22%)

Barwan Isan Mergoz Batros
1 seat

(US Business Council in Iraq)

When broken down by governorate the opposition was able to win outright in Sulaymaniya, and even picked up some support in Irbil and Dohuk. In Sulaymaniya, the three opposition parties had a decisive victory over the PUK with 59.29% of the vote compared to 28.62%. In Irbil Change won 18.4%, the Islamic Group 6.55%, and the Islamic Union 6.51% for 31.46% of the governorate’s electorate. In Dohuk the Islamic Union got 12.77%, Change 2.88%, and the Islamic Group 1.08% for 16.73%. Those two provinces are the base for the KDP. That shows that President Massoud Barzani’s party still has a long way to go to win the Kurdish elections outright as the opposition has sizeable support. It also highlights once again the decline of the PUK as it was outvoted in all three provinces by the opposition.

2013 KRG Election Results By Province
Kurdistan Islamic Union
Kurdistan Islamic Group

The stance that the opposition takes towards the new government will go a long way to determining the future of the KRG. The KDP has already stated that it does not want Change to become part of the ruling coalition, but that it is open to the Kurdistan Islamic Union, and some of the minority parties. President Barzani wants to dominate Kurdistan, and therefore is unlikely to be open to including Change, which has been pushing for major reforms in the region. The fact that the KDP and PUK between them control half the parliament means they can pick and choose whom to work with. Change, the Islamic Union and the Islamic Group need to weigh what they can gain from participating in the government and staying in the opposition. Making the wrong choice could damage their futures by costing them votes if for example they get co-opted, and also set back the chance to move the KRG towards greater democracy and away from the two-party autocratic rule that it has experienced over the last three decades.


Chomani, Kamal, “Iraqi Kurdistan’s historic election,” Foreign Policy, 9/28/13

Iraq Business News, “KRG Election Results,” 10/4/13

Rudaw, “Kurdistan Parliament Elections 2013,” 10/2/13
- “PUK Begins High-Profile Reshuffle after Poor Poll Results,” 10/1/13

Sands, Phil, “Victory for Kurdistan opposition,” The National, 7/30/09

Shafaq News, “Final results of Kurdistan Parliament seats: 38 KDP, Change 24, PUK 18 and 17 seats for Islamists,” 10/2/13

Taha, Yaseen, “secular alliance blamed for Kurdish islamists election failure,” Niqash, 8/30/09

Zebari, Abdul Hamid, “Erbil: Commission announces the results of the elections of the Parliament of Kurdistan,” Radio Free Iraq, 10/2/13

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