Middle East This Week: April 20, 2021

April 20, 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 ruins of the temple of Jupiter in Damascus. Syria holds a sham presidential next month in the midst of a continuing civil war. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Ai@ce (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

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

Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations (April 20, 2021): Thinking About the Palestinian Elections

Al Jazeera (April 20, 2021): Palestinians doubt next month’s elections will take place

i24 News (April 17, 2021): Push for postponing Palestinian elections gains momentum on back of Hamas concerns: report

Dalia Hatuqa, Foreign Policy (April 16, 2021): Arafat’s Nephew Is Coming for Abbas: Veteran diplomat Nasser al-Qudwa could prompt a realignment within Palestinian politics

TRT World (April 20, 2021): Yasser Arafat’s nephew sets sights on Palestinian elections. Who is he?

Syria Presidential Election: May 26, 2021

Syria has scheduled its presidential election for May 26, 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

Daily Sabah (April 20, 2021): People in Syria’s Tal Abyad reject Assad-mandated elections

Sarah El Deeb, AP (April 20, 2021): First woman ever applies to run for president of Syria

Reuters (April 18, 2021): Syria to hold presidential elections on May 26 – parliament

Algeria Snap Legislative Elections: June 12, 2021, followed by local elections

Algeria will hold snap elections on June 12, 2021, following more than two years of protests by the Hirak movement. However, the government’s election plan has not actually satisfied the protesters, who continue to take to the streets.

Kamailoudini Tagba, North Africa Post (April 20, 2021): Algeria: Human rights deteriorate, crackdown on journalists continues

AFP (April 18, 2021): Berbers mark 20 years since Algeria’s ‘Black Spring’ protests

AP (April 15, 2021): Algeria protesters at crossroads as Islamists take spotlight

Iran Presidential and Local Elections: June 18, 2021

Iran has scheduled its next presidential election for June 18, 2021, with concurrent local elections. While Iran is far from a free country, and the elections are largely rigged, voters do have a degree of choice. More

Arash Azizi, Atlantic Council (April 20, 2021): Who is afraid of Iran’s Faezeh Hashemi?

Barak Ravid, Axios (April 20, 2021): After nuclear talks, Iran’s president says deal could be reached soon

Campbell MacDiarmid, The Telegraph (April 17, 2021): Iran’s hit spy thriller is first shot in election culture war

Yaghoub Fazeli, Al Arabiya (April 14, 2021): Daughter of Iran’s ex-president Rafsanjani says she is boycotting upcoming elections

Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Elections: Due in 2021

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), part of the Pakistan-administered portion of the disputed region of Kashmir, is due to hold legislative assembly elections soon. These follow elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, the other part of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The elections were originally due by April 2, 2021, but haven’t been officially scheduled yet.

Business Recorder (April 18, 2021): PTI interviews 300 candidates for upcoming AKJ elections

Iraq Early Parliamentary Elections: October 10, 2021 (tentative) and Provincial Elections (due)

Iraq’s government had proposed holding snap parliamentary elections on June 6, 2021, one year early, following the demands of protesters. However, the tentative date has been pushed to October. 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 (April 20, 2021): Need for ‘serious work’ between UN and Iraq’s electoral commission: President Salih

John Davison, Ahmed Rasheed, and John Davison, Reuters (April 16, 2021): Iraq attacks deepen security woes as global, local rivals clash

Sura Ali, Rudaw (April 16, 2021): Maliki offers to reconcile with Sadr ahead of elections

Past Middle East Elections

Israel Parliamentary Elections, Take 4: March 23, 2021

On March 23, 2021, Israel held its fourth general election in two years after the collapse of the unity government of Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz. Neither Netanyahu’s allies nor his opponents won a majority, so if anyone wants to form a government, they will need to get creative. More

Jonathan Lis, Haaretz (April 20, 2021): In Blow to Netanyahu, Rivals Secure Key Parliamentary Panel

Ilan Ben Zion, AP (April 19, 2021): Netanyahu backs bill for direct election for Israeli prime minister

Gil Hoffman and Tobias Siegal, Jerusalem Post (April 19, 2021): As time runs out, Netanyahu bloc pushing bill for PM direct election

Raoul Wootliff, Times of Israel (April 18, 2021): To avert 5th elections, block Lapid, right-wing parties float direct vote for PM

Avner Inbar, World Politics Review (April 16, 2021): Israel’s Electoral Impasse Is Putting Arab Parties on the Political Map

Kuwait Parliamentary Elections: December 5, 2020

Kuwait held parliamentary elections on December 5, 2020. As could be expected, COVID-19 and the government’s response shaped public debate ahead of the elections. Meanwhile, populism is on the rise, exacerbated by the pandemic and falling oil prices. More

Courtney Freer and Andrew Leber, Brookings Institution (April 19, 2021): The “tribal advantage” in Kuwaiti politics and the future of the opposition

Tunisia Presidential and Legislative Elections: September/October 2019

Tunisia began transitioning to democracy in 2011, amid the Arab Spring protests, and in 2019, held the third national elections since the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The results indicated a rejection of the main political parties and post-Ben Ali political ideologies (Islamism and secular liberalism). However, some concerns lingered about the democratic process.

Reuters (April 20, 2021): Tunisia’s Ennahda criticises president as political crisis deepens

Saarthak Madan, Borgen Magazine (April 20, 2021): 10 Years Later: How Tunisia Managed the Democratic Transition

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