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
Rights group calls on the international community to reject the upcoming presidential election set to take place in May in Syria. It will be neither free nor fair, as there will be no meaningful competition to Assad's brutal rule. https://t.co/1DFoHQZKt3
— Human Rights Foundation (@HRF) April 28, 2021
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
A leaked interview with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has exposed conflicts within Iran's leadership.
Is it just an election tactic? And, if so, by whom?https://t.co/LDcfzsAPgs
— DW News (@dwnews) May 1, 2021
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.
Pakistan: Regional elections for the Autonomous region of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)'s Legislature will be held sometime in July this year, schedule and the code of conduct for which would be announced in June, the region’s election commission has announced. #pakistan
— Asia Elects (@AsiaElects) May 4, 2021
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
“If Iraq had a small number of larger, cross-sectarian parties competing nationally in parliamentary elections, this could facilitate the formation of more effective, stronger, and more harmonious governments,” writes @naufelalhassan. https://t.co/TqKangYFiG MiddleEastInst RT #…
— Future Risk (@futurerisks) May 5, 2021
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
— Al-Monitor (@AlMonitor) May 3, 2021
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
Tensions are rising between Khalifa Haftar and #Libya's Prime Minister Abdul Dbeibah.
Haftar is determined to maintain his hegemony over Benghazi.
This does not bode well for Libya's December 2021 elections, but plays right into the hands of #Russia.
— Samuel Ramani (@SamRamani2) April 30, 2021
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
guy in 17th year of 4-year term postpones elections & blames someone elsehttps://t.co/QEBHuLLe7C
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) April 29, 2021
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.
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