March 9, 2021
Your weekly roundup of news and analysis of elections in the greater Middle East and North Africa, usually posted on Tuesdays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.
The Chaldean Cathedral of St. Joseph in Baghdad, one of the places where Pope Francis said mass on his historic visit to Iraq this month. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Aziz1005 (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Israel Snap Parliamentary Elections (Take 4): March 23, 2021
On March 23, 2021, Israel will hold its fourth general election in two years after the collapse of the unity government of Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz. More
Barak Ravid, Axios (March 10, 2021): Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu takes his election campaign to the UAE
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post (March 9, 2021): Israel elections: From vaccines to Elvis, the TV campaign ads are back
Maya Margit, The Media Line (March 9, 2021): The Pandemic Has Shifted Election Dynamics in Israel
Anchal Vohra, Foreign Policy (March 8, 2021): Israel Is the Arab World’s New Soft Power
Ilan Ben Zion, AP (March 7, 2021): With many vaccinated, Israel reopens economy before election
Andrew Parasiliti, Elizabeth Hagedorn, and Joe Snell, Al-Monitor (March 3, 2021): The Takeaway: Iran looms over Israel’s March 23 elections
Syria Presidential Election: April or May 2021
Syria is due to hold a presidential election between April 16 and May 16, 2021. The election comes in the context of Syria’s ongoing civil war and humanitarian crisis. Elections under the regime of Bashar al-Assad are widely considered to be a sham. More
AFP (March 9, 2021): Syria’s Assad set for election win 10 years after start of war
Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor (March 4, 2021): Syria, after 10 years of conflict: No war and no peace
Liz Sly, Washington Post (March 4, 2021): He told the world about his brutal torture in Syria. Then, mysteriously, he went back.
Palestinian Authority Legislative Elections: May 22, 2021 and Presidential Election: July 31, 2021
The Palestinian Authority has scheduled long overdue elections for the legislature and president for May 22 and July 31, respectively. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in year 14 of a four-year term. Similarly, the last Legislative Council elections took place in 2006. More
James Rothwell, The Telegraph (March 9, 2021): Yasser Arafat’s nephew issues challenge to Mahmoud Abbas ahead of first Palestinian elections since 2006
Aaron Boxerman, Times of Israel (March 9, 2021): Hamas leadership vote turns into dramatic standoff as Sinwar seeks reelection
Elior Levy, Ynet/AFP (March 9, 2021): Tight election battle for Hamas leadership in Gaza
AFP (March 9, 2021): Hamas to elect new Gaza chief this week, sources say
Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post (March 9, 2021): Palestinian Elections: Crisis deepens as Fatah threatens dissidents
Reuters (March 7, 2021): Abbas Battles Fatah Party Discord ahead of Palestinian Elections
Patrick Kingsley, New York Times (March 5, 2021): She Was a Star of New Palestinian Music. Then She Played Beside the Mosque.
Nathan J. Brown and Zaha Hassan, Carnegie Endowment (March 4, 2021): Slightly Dialing Back the Cynicism About Palestine’s Upcoming Elections
Daoud Kuttab, Al-Monitor (March 3, 2021): Decree on election court removes one obstacle for Palestinian elections
Iraq Early Parliamentary Elections: June 6, 2021 (tentative) and Provincial Elections (due)
Iraq’s government has proposed holding snap parliamentary elections on June 6, 2021, one year early, following the demands of protesters. However, parliament still has to pass a new electoral law and allocate a budget for the elections in order for them to actually happen. Therefore, the date remains tentative. Iraq is also due to hold provincial (sometimes called governorate) elections. Preparations are taking place in the context of widespread protest and political instability. More
Dilan Sirwan, Rudaw (March 9, 2021): Elections being held on time is ‘uncertain’ : Iraqi MP
Reuters (March 8, 2021): Iraq PM urges national dialogue after ‘love and tolerance’ of Pope visit
Jane Arraf, New York Times (March 8, 2021): Pope Francis Ends Historic Trip at a Critical Moment for Iraq
Miriam Berger, Washington Post (March 6, 2021): Why the pope’s visit matters for Iraq’s Christians
Marc Santora, New York Times (March 5, 2021): In Pictures: Pope Francis in Iraq
Iran Presidential and Local Elections: June 18, 2021
Iran has scheduled its next presidential election for June 18, 2021, with concurrent local elections. More
Golnar Motevalli, Bloomberg (March 7, 2021): Head of Engineering Giant Owned by Iran’s Guard Eyes Presidency
Atlantic Council (March 5, 2021): Multiple elections could boost hardline victories in Iran
American Enterprise Institute Critical Threats (March 4, 2021): Iranian Presidential Election Tracker: Reformists show signs of fracturing
Sarbas Nazari, Al-Monitor (March 4, 2021): Will Iran’s Reformists ‘hire’ a candidate for presidency?
Sina Azodi, Atlantic Council (March 1, 2021): Saeed Mohammad: The young face of the IRGC weighing his political options
Election poster for Saeed Mohammad. Caption reads “Standing in the Dust” a reference to the documentary made in Iran about IRGC commander Ahmad Motevaselian, kidnapped in Lebanon in 1982. https://t.co/iTQXxTodaa pic.twitter.com/GaJ6WmMb2m
— Sina Azodi (@Azodiac83) March 7, 2021
Saeed Mohammad’s tentative bid for Iran’s presidency is important but also predictable and it’s very easy to overstate his chances.
He is by no means a prolific political figure in Iran and his presence on the ballot is unlikely to influence voter turnout.
— Golnar Motevalli (@golnarM) March 7, 2021
Morocco Legislative and Local Elections: Summer/Fall 2021 (due)
Morocco is due to hold legislative, provincial, and local elections in fall and summer 2021. However, the three biggest political parties have called for a delay due to COVID-19. Local media are reporting that a source has indicated that all three sets of elections will take place on a single day in September 2021, but no date has been confirmed yet. The elections are taking place in the context of discontentment and disillusionment. More
Adel Abdel Ghafar, Brookings Institution (March 9, 2021): The arrest of Maati Monjib and the continued retreat of human rights in Morocco
Maan Movement, Moroccan World News (March 6, 2021): The Vote of Moroccans Living Abroad: Unleashing the Potential
Nina Koslowski, The Africa Report (March 5, 2021): Women’s rights: Moroccan politicians take a stand on law against extramarital sex
Libya Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: December 24, 2021 (tentative)
Libya’s national elections are overdue and have been postponed indefinitely due to the political crisis and civil war. However, in November 2020, Libyan stakeholders participating in UN-sponsored talks proposed December 24, 2021 for presidential and parliamentary elections. More
Mirette Magdy, Bloomberg (March 10, 2021): Libya Lawmakers Approve First Unified Government Since 2014
Al Jazeera (March 9, 2021): Libyan parliament meets for key vote on endorsing interim gov’t
Afghanistan Parliamentary Elections: October 2023 and Presidential Election: September 2024 (due – early elections possible)
Afghanistan held long-delayed parliamentary elections in October 2018, marred by violence and administrative problems. In order to fix problems from the legislative elections, the presidential election has been delayed twice. Ashraf Ghani ultimately won re-election in a very tense vote and a tense four months in between the election and the final declaration of results. The election took place amid attacks by the Taliban, which had ordered Aghans not to vote.
Daily Sabah (March 9, 2021): US proposes interim gov’t run Afghanistan until new polls
Hamid Shalizi and Charlotte Greenfield, Reuters (March 6, 2021): Afghan president says ready to discuss elections to advance talks with Taliban
Past Middle East Elections
Pakistan Senate Elections (Indirect): March 3, 2021
Pakistan held indirect Senate elections on March 3. Prime Minister Imran Khan had oped his allies would gain a majority in the upper house, especially since a majority of the electors – MPs and provincial legislators – belong to his PTI. However, in a secret ballot, many crossed party lines and voted for opposition candidates, thus denying Khan his majority.
Asad Hashim, Al Jazeera (March 6, 2021): Pakistani PM Khan wins vote of confidence amid opposition boycott
Haroon Janjua, DW (March 4, 2021): Pakistan: Senate election deals a blow to Imran Khan
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