Middle East

August 1, 2023

A weekly review of news and analysis of elections in the greater Middle East and North Africa, usually posted on Tuesdays and occasionally updated throughout the week.

The Pakistan Monument in Islamabad, which is meant to symbolize the unity of Pakistani people who come from various ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Yaarahmadd (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Ongoing Middle East Elections

Lebanon Indirect Presidential Election (by parliament): Continuing

Lebanon’s fractious parliament is in the process of selecting a president. As part of Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system, the president is always a Maronite Christian (and conversely, a Sunni serves as prime minister and a Shi’ite as speaker of the parliament). 

The last parliamentary elections took place in May 2022 in the context of a political and economic crisis exacerbated by the August 2020 explosion in the port of Beirut. In those elections, Hezbollah and its allies lost their majority in parliament, and a number of independents won seats. 

The fragmented parliament has not been able to pick a new president, leaving a vacuum following the end of Michel Aoun’s term in October 2022. 

Maya Gebeily at Reuters notes: “The leadership crisis reflects divisions among the ruling elite that has been unable to install a president or fully empowered cabinet for over a year, while leaving the financial crisis to fester, largely unaddressed, since 2019.” 

Maya Gebeily, Reuters (July 28, 2023): Lebanon’s central bank faces uncertainty without appointment of new governor

Upcoming Middle East Elections

Pakistan General Elections: By November 10, 2023 (early elections possible)

Pakistan is due to hold elections later this year amid political turmoil and multiple crises. Shweta Sharma at The Independent says: “Analysts say there are hopes that the election can bring an end to a period of deep political uncertainty since [former PM Imran] Khan was ousted in a vote of no confidence, as well as install a government with the mandate to tackle one of South Asia’s worst economic crises, exacerbated by last year’s devastating floods.”

Shweta Sharma, The Independent (August 1, 2023): Fears of more political violence as Pakistan prepares for elections – with or without Imran Khan

AP (July 31, 2023): Pakistan buries dead after 54 killed in a bombing at pro-Taliban cleric’s election rally

Anwarullah Khan and Riaz Khan at the AP note: “The bombing came hours before Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng arrived in Islamabad, where he signed new agreements to boost trade and economic ties to mark a decade of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a sprawling package under which China has invested $10 billion in Pakistan over 10 years, according to Sharif.”

AP (July 31, 2023): IS Behind Pro-Taliban Election Rally Bombing in Pakistan

Adnan Aamir, Nikkei Asia (July 26, 2023): Imran Khan tells Pakistan’s military to stay out of politics as election nears

Iraq Regional Elections: December 18, 2023

Sinan Mahmoud at The National notes: “After the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime, parliamentary and provincial council elections were introduced as the main pillar for democracy. Provincial councils play a vital role as the sub-national legislative authority, as well as devising localized development plans.”

Sinan Mahmoud, The National UAE (July 30, 2023): Iraq’s electoral commission extends party registration deadline for provincial polls

Palestinian Authority General Elections: Long Overdue

Palestinian Authority elections are long overdue. President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in year 18 of a four-year term. Elections were finally scheduled in 2021, but canceled at the last minute. 

In 2007, Hamas gained control of Gaza, leading to a rift between it and the Palestinian Authority, headquartered in the West Bank and led by Abbas’s Fatah party. 

Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post (August 1, 2023): Is unity between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority possible?

Qassam Muaddi, The New Arab (July 31, 2023): Why breaking the deadlock in Palestinian politics remains elusive

Al Jazeera (July 30, 2023): Palestinian rival governments form ‘reconciliation committee’: In latest attempt at reconciliation, Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh have met for rare face-to-face talks in Egypt.

Past Middle East Elections

Turkey General Elections: May 14, 2023

Kristina Jovanovski, The Media Line (July 30, 2023): Turkey’s constitutional conundrum: Erdogan’s ‘libertarian’ pledge raises alarm bells: The Turkish president’s desire to replace the post-coup constitution fuels concerns about autocracy and civil liberties

Martin Makaryan, Inkstick Media (July 28, 2023): Turkey’s Young People Wonder What’s Next As Erdoğan Starts Another Term

Regional Analysis

Joost Hiltermann, Foreign Affairs (August 1, 2023): Is the Middle East’s Makeover a Mirage?

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2023

Lebanon Indirect Presidential Election (by parliament): ongoing

United Arab Emirates Federal National Council Elections (indirect elections, advisory body with limited powers): October 7, 2023

Israel Local Elections: October 31, 2023

Pakistan General Elections: By November 10, 2023 (early elections possible)

Oman Consultative Assembly Elections (advisory body with limited power): October 2023 (due)

Iraq Regional Elections: December 18, 2023

Kurdistan (Iraq) Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: November 18, 2023 (delays possible)

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