Thursday, July 12, 2018

Election Recount In Iraq Going Badly Politically

In May 2018 Iraq held its latest election for parliament. Immediately afterward there were various charges of fraud. The loudest came from the Kurdish opposition, the Turkmen Front and Arab Alliance that accused the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of cheating in Kirkuk and Sulaymaniya. These complaints and others led parliament to amend the election law at the start of June to order a recount of the ballots. This process is roughly half way finished, yet there are still parties that are not satisfied and the controversy over the results continues.  

The recount started first in Kirkuk on July 3 and there were immediately stories of differences with the official vote count. The Turkmen Front for instance was the first to claim that there was up to a 50% variance between the results and the recount in the Daquq district of the province. There were subsequent articles that reported the same thing. One in the Baghdad Post quoted an observer in Daquq that alleged that the Arab Alliance only got 46 votes in the returns, but 239 in the recount, the PUK received 1,363 officially, but only 115 subsequently, while the Turkmen Front got 145 ballots at first vs 738 in the new count. Al Aalem was told that 168 out of 379 ballot boxes showed fraud in favor of the PUK. There were similar reports coming out of Sulaymaniya. On the other hand, the Patriotic Union claimed there were no real differences in the counts. Something that the United Nations deputy special representative to Iraq seconded.

Needless to say the parties that had problems with the vote were not satisfied with this process. Change, the Democracy and Justice Party, the Kurdistan Islamic Union, the Turkmen Front, the Arab Alliance, the Kurdistan Islamic Group, the Kurdistan Islamic Movement, and the Kurdistan Communist Party rejected the recount in Kirkuk and Sulaymaniya saying that the ballot boxes were tampered with and the process was not transparent. This presents a major dilemma. The recount was meant to assuage the fears of these parties, but it has done nothing but reinforce them. Because of all the reports of large differences in the counts if the Election Commission comes out and says that it found only minor ones, these parties will not believe it. That will lead to more protests and perhaps legal actions, and the legitimacy of the election will remain in doubt for these lists. This is also holding up the formation of a new government, because that can’t be completed until the results are certified.


Al Aalem, “Source: Hand counting and sorting of Kirkuk ballots shows 44% falsification for the benefit of the PUK,” 7/7/18

Baghdad Post, “Manual re-count of votes in Kirkuk proved electoral fraud: observers,” 7/7/18
- “Manual vote recount ends in Kirkuk with 93% matching initial results,” 7/8/18

Iraq News Network, “6 Kurdish parties reject manual recounting and sorting in Sulaymaniya,” 7/9/18

Al Mada, “Leaks on recount matching official count and the hopes of those who object to entering parliament,” 7/10/18

Al Masalah, “Turkmen Front: Counting and sorting of 24 boxes showed difference of 50% from results,” 7/3/18

NRT, “PUK Votes Decrease By 50% In Sulaimani’s Manual Recount Of Votes: Figures,” 7/9/18

Rudaw, “Iraq election recount already showing different Kirkuk outcome: official,” 7/4/18
- “Manual recount of votes in Kirkuk rejected as continued fraud,” 7/9/18
- “Vote recount begins under watch of parties,” 7/3/18
- “Vote recount tallies with electronic result so far: UN,” 7/10/18

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