Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Possible Breakthrough In 5 Month Deadlock Over Forming New Kurdistan Govt

Iraqi Pres Salah and PUK politburo member Rasul (Rudaw)

In September 2018 Kurds went to the polls to elect a new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Five months later it appears that the two main parties the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) might finally have a deal to create a new ruling coalition.

At the start of February the KDP and PUK worked out the basics of a new government. Masrur Barzani of the KDP will become premier, and the party will hold the Natural Resource Minister. It also wants to maintain the presidency. In return, the PUK will keep the governorship of Kirkuk and get the speaker of parliament and the deputy premier position.

The reason for the protracted negotiations is that the KDP wants to change its relationship with the PUK. Since the 1990s when the KRG was created and the first elections held in the region, the KDP and PUK always divided up the government, usually 50-50. After the 2018 vote, the KDP said it didn’t want another unity administration, but instead have the positions based upon the results of the election. The KDP received 45 seats in the balloting, the PUK 21, Gorran 12, and smaller parties fewer than 10 seats each. That’s the reason why the KDP wants both the premiership and presidency. This is an assertion of power by the KDP as it has become the dominant party in the region. The PUK on the other hand, has faced the death of its founder Jalal Talabani, internal divisions, and the emergence of the opposition party Gorran in recent years, all of which have cut into its constituency. The PUK obviously didn't want to be the junior partner, but might have finally acquiesced.

SOURCES

eKurd, “PUK gets Iraqi Kurdistan parliament speaker post and deputy PM in new government,” 2/9/19

Hussein, Mohammed, Tahir, Rawaz, “Kurdistan government formation takes step forward,” Iraq Oil Report, 2/8/19

NRT, “PUK To Take Post Of Speaker, Deputy Prime Minister In New Government: PUK Spokesperson,” 2/9/19

Qader, Histyar, “Out With The Islamists, Iraqi Kurdistan Heading For First Secular Government In A Decade,” Niqash, 12/30/18

Rudaw, “Election commission publishes official KRG election results,” 10/20/18

Zaman, Amberin, “How the Barzanis are looking to consolidate power in Iraqi Kurdistan,” Al Monitor, 12/4/18

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