Sep 20, 2013

Iraqi Kurdistan: 2013 Legislative Elections


The legislative elections in Iraqi Kurdistan scheduled for 21 September 2013 will be a crucial political event in the history of the autonomous region in northern Iraq, as it may be a turning point to change the political shape of the next parliament, as well as the new government cabinet. Campaigns for the fourth legislative elections in Iraqi Kurdistan started on 28 August and lasted until 17 September. Rates of pre-election violence have thus far been relatively low. Female politicians are hoping to win more seats in the regional legislature, continuing the trend of the previous legislative elections in 2009. In the 21 September legislative elections 2.8 million out of the regions 5.5 million inhabitants are eligible to vote.

The elections in Iraqi Kurdistan will be conducted according to the semi-open list system with the region as a single electoral district. Candidates representing 30 political entities will compete for 100 parliamentary seats and candidates representing the Christian, Turkmen and Armenian minorities in the region will further compete for 11 additional seats. The KRG exercises executive power according to the Kurdistan Region’s laws as enacted by the democratically elected Kurdistan Iraqi Parliament (KPI). The current government assumed office on 28 October 2009.

In comparison with the previous three parliamentary elections, the 21 September elections may change the political shape of the region. Already in the 25 July 2009 legislative elections a strong opposition party, Movement for Change (MC), emerged, winning 25 out of 111 seats. The two ruling parties KDP and PUK running on a coalition list won only 59 seats combined. In the upcoming elections the two parties who have ruled Iraqi Kurdistan in a united government over the past eight years will run on separate lists, as a result of which the political parties’ relative weight will be determined. Although a continuation of their agreement is expected, it is not clear whether KDP and PUK will be able to form a new cabinet together. The leadership of each party has expressed a desire to review their strategic agreement.

Coalitions are expected between different political party winners. The main competitive forces are PUK, MC and
KDP, the former two competing for votes in Sulaymaniyah, and the latter trying to win seats in Erbil and Dohuk. The three Kurdish Islamic parties – the Kurdistan Islamic Union (Kurdish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood), the Kurdistan Islamic Group and the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan – are in a competitive position for a number of seats in Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah.

For more information on the topic, see the attached briefing note.