Iraq held its first local elections in ten years on Monday, 18 December, with a voter turnout of approximately 41%, a figure reflecting widespread public apathy in the post-ISIS era. The elections, crucial for shaping local governance ahead of the 2025 general election, were conducted across 15 of Iraq’s 18 provinces.
A notable feature of these elections was the higher participation rates in Kurdish cities, and Kirkuk, an ethnically-diverse city. Heightened engagement in these areas, despite the perceived failings of local political leaders, sent a strong message of civic responsibility and a call for political reform.
The elections were marked by the participation of diverse political factions, including Shi’ite groups, Sunnis, Kurds and other minorities. A significant development was the absence of the Sadrist movement, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, which boycotted the vote. This decision is emblematic of the evolving political landscape in Iraq, particularly given the Sadrists’ previous success, where they secured third place with 60 seats.
Early data from the strategically important Kirkuk indicated a remarkable turnout of over 70%, significantly above the national average. This turnout, particularly with the Kurds reportedly emerging victorious, is expected to exacerbate existing ethnic tensions with Arab and Turkmen communities. To counter potential unrest, Bafil Talabani, leader of the Kurdistan Patriotic Union (YNK), called for a peaceful celebration and emphasised the need to maintain stability in the diverse city.
The final election results are expected to be announced by 17:00 local time on Tuesday.