May 4, 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 Khaju Bridge in Isfahan, Iran. Iran heads to the polls next month. Photo credit:
Flickr/Ninara (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

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

Reuters (May 3, 2021): Syrian court selects two candidates to appear on ballot against Assad

AP (May 2, 2021): Syria’s Assad grants amnesties before presidential election

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 Hirak, who continue to take to the streets and have decided to boycott the elections. The absence of the Hirak, who are mostly secular, from the elections has paved the way for Islamist parties to become the main opposition.

Al Jazeera (May 3, 2021): Algeria’s Tebboune urges dialogue amid mounting social anger

AFP (April 29, 2021): Algeria arrests top opposition figure weeks ahead of election

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

Kareem Fahim, Washington Post (May 4, 2021): Iran’s hard-liners step up attacks on Rouhani government, sowing suspicion over nuclear talks

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 have been delayed. AJK’s election commission has said it hopes to hold the polls in June.

The region is a geopolitical hotspot. Tensions with India (India and Pakistan have fought three wars, including two over Kashmir) are growing and both sides are upping their military presence. Moreover, the area is a centerpiece of China’s Belt and Road, which further inflames Pakistan’s relations with India.

Tribune Pakistan (May 3, 2021): Govt unveils 49-point electoral reforms

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

Marsin Alshamary and Maya Nir, Brookings Institution (May 3, 2021): The prospects and limitations of United Nations election observation in Iraq

The New Arab (May 3, 2021): Former Iraq PM forms coalition with Shia Islamist leader for upcoming election

Hiwa Shilani, Kurdistan24 (May 3, 2021): Iraq’s parliament speaker in Erbil to discuss elections, security with Kurdistan PM

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

Zehra Nur Düz, Andalou Agency (May 5, 2021): UN envoy for Libya submits proposal on elections to forum

Walaa Ali, Egypt Today (May 4, 2021): Muslim Brotherhood in Libya changes its name to “Revival and Renewal” to run elections

Al Jazeera (May 3, 2021): Libya’s top diplomat calls on Turkey to withdraw foreign fighters

Mary Fitzgerald, World Politics Review (May 3, 2021): Peace in Libya Will Require More Than Elections

Palestinian Authority Legislative Elections: May 22, 2021 and Presidential Election: July 31, 2021 (POSTPONED)

The Palestinian Authority has postponed its long overdue elections for the legislature and president, which had been scheduled 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

Editorial Board, Washington Post (May 3, 2021): Opinion: An election fiasco leaves the Palestinian government weaker than ever

Erik Share, Lawfare (May 2, 2021): Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Balancing Act

Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations (April 30, 2021): After the “Postponement” of Palestinian Elections, Now What?

International Crisis Group (April 30, 2021): Why Palestinian Elections Should Get Back on Track

Nidal Al-mughrabi, Ali Sawafta, and Rami Ayyub, Reuters (April 30, 2021): Palestinian leader delays parliamentary and presidential elections, blaming Israel

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

BBC (May 4, 2021): Israel: Netanyahu deadline to form government expires

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, World Politics Review (April 30, 2021): Kuwait’s Political Gridlock Is Taking a Toll

A New Generation of Protests

Kim Ghattas, The Atlantic (May 1, 2021): ‘We Want a Nation’: A new generation of protesters has taken lessons from the Arab world’s failed uprisings of a decade prior.

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content, and their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here.

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