“Of the nearly 3.5 million citizens eligible to vote in the Kurdistan region, only 900,000 went to the polls. Therefore, hundreds of thousands of citizens who voted in the last election protested by not voting this year.” writes Meral Çiçek for Yeni Ozgur Politika.
Iraq’s once-postponed early elections were held this Sunday with a record low turnout. Official results announced a turnout of 41 percent, but in reality it is estimated that only 20 percent of voters went to the polls and voted on Sunday.
After the fall of Saddam’s regime, turnout was over 80 percent in the first election made after those days. Since then, the number of people who have voted has fallen steadily.
This time a different voting system was introduced for the early elections. Previously, there was a system based on proportional representation, based on provinces as constituencies (Iraq consists of 19 provinces, 3 of which are in Başûr, Iraqi Kurdistan) and people were voting on lists.
However, this time, there were 83 constituencies across Iraq and candidates were directly selected. How fair this system was was put into question immediately after the election; since in some places, candidates became lawmakers with only 5,000 votes, while elsewhere candidates who received 20,000 votes were unable to enter the parliament.
And because of a ‘quota’ system for parliamentary representation, a quarter of the elected representatives have to be women, while 9 of the seats have to belong to minorities (5 seats for Christians, only one for Yazidi, Shabak, Feylî and Mandeans (Sabiî)).
The election results in the Kurdistan region changed significantly compared to the previous election. Almost all of the parties nominating candidates lost votes.
Although technically, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is the party that has the most deputies from Iraqi Kurdistan (Başûr), it is also the party that lost the most votes. Compared to the 2018 elections, when it received 725,000 votes, the KDP lost 304,000 votes this time.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which allied itself with Gorran in the elections, lost 214,000 votes. For Gorran, the situation was worse; In the 2018 elections, it won nearly 200,000 votes and had 5 seats, however, this time with only 22,300 votes the Gorran lost all of its seats in Iraq’s house of representatives.
Komala lost 41,000 votes and Nifşa Nû lost 17,000 votes, bringing the number of MPs to 9. Yekgirtû Îslam, the only Kurdish party to increase its vote, gained 7,000 more votes this time.
Of the nearly 3.5 million citizens eligible to vote in the Kurdistan region, only 900,000 went to the polls. Therefore, hundreds of thousands of citizens who voted in the last election protested by not voting this year
Considering that, unlike in the rest of Iraq, none of the independent candidates in Başûr were elected, it is obvious that the people who do not believe in the established party system did not vote for the independents either.
Therefore, it is understood that the people of Başûr not only do not believe in the political system but they also do not believe in the candidates either.
Although the reasons for this are more or less known, it is worth discussing the Basûr-Baghdad relationship separately. But let this be the subject of another article.
The party that won the most votes in the Iraqi elections was the Sadr movement, led by the Shiite cleric, Muqtada es-Sadr. The movement increased the number of their seats in the Iraqi parliament from 54 to 73.
Kurdish parties won 61 of the 329 seats in parliament, of which 32 belong to the KDP.
Former prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party surprisingly increased the number of their seats from 25 to 37.
The Shiite groups, known for their proximity to Iran faced significant vote losses. The Hadi Amiri-led Fatah Alliance which was the second power in the previous elections, fell this time from 48 to 14 seats and is now the seventh largest group in the parliament.
The previous day, Muqtada al-Sadr sent a message to some armed forces within the Popular Mobilization Forces (Al-Hashd Al-Sha’bi) saying that “all weapons, including those that belong to the ones claiming to be insurgents, must be collected within the state.” A spokesman for Kata’ib Hezbollah then responded by saying that they could only give their weapons to Imam Mahdi.
Western powers, especially the United States, are pleased with this result. Their hope, too, was that the election results would be against Iran and the balance between the shiite factions would be broken.
Sadr, however, also sent a message to the West in his speech after the unofficial election results were announced. Sadr warned foreign powers against interfering in the process of forming a government, calling his group “neither Eastern nor Western, Iraqi.”
Considering the current results, the process of establishing a government can be expected to proceed faster this time.
But we will soon see the affects of the changing political balances within the Iraqi parliament on real policies and whether it will be more peaceful or aggressive.