On May 14 the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) ended its boycott of the Kurdistan Regional Government cabinet. It stopped attending meetings in 2022 due to its on going conflict and rivalry with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) which has moved to dominate the regional government instead of sharing power with its former partner. This truce didn’t last the end of the month as the two were at it again, this time over re-instating the regional Election Commission.
At the end of February the PUK and KDP agreed on holding KRG elections in 2023 and that the existing Election Commission would be used to administer them. KRG President Nechirvan Barzani set the voting date as November 18. The PUK claimed it was not consulted beforehand and not all the details had been decided yet such as quotas for minorities. Voting had been delayed in October 2022 due to the disputes between the two parties. The agreement between the PUK and KDP was supposed to overcome these differences and smooth the way for a new parliament and president to be elected but it didn’t. In fact, things have only escalated since then.
The new argument is about re-activating the KRG Election Commission. On May 22 the speaker of the KRG parliament who is from the PUK cancelled a session to vote on using the commission, but then her deputy from the KDP reversed her order and the body was approved. The PUK accused the KDP of violating the rules and a fight broke out between parliamentarians. NRT interviewed MPs and reported that it was not clear that a vote even took place to use the Election Commission. The KDP is acting like it did and had the official KRG gazette publish a decree about it. This new disagreement is likely to take up the coming weeks as the two go back and forth over the issue.
The PUK and KDP used to split the KRG administration 50-50. The Patriotic Union then started a steady decline after its leader President Jalal Talabani fell ill and then passed away. It can’t keep its own house united with various factions vying for power. The KDP took advantage of that and has tried to take over all the major positions in the region. That’s the reason why it unilaterally declared the voting day and is forcing through the old Election Commission. It does not respect the PUK and doesn’t think it has the power to do anything about it. The decline of the Patriotic Union has allowed the KDP to act more and more like the KRG is a one party system and run rough shod over the other political parties.
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- “Kurdistan Region electoral commission reactivated, announced KDP MPs,” 5/22/23
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