Middle East This Week: May 11, 2021

May 11, 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.

Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque, as seen from the Western Wall. Photo credit:
Wikimedia/Wilson44691 (public domain)

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

Ali Slimi, Foreign Brief (May 11, 2021): Campaigning for Syrian presidential elections to begin

Mary Harris, Slate (May 10, 2021): Ten Years of Civil War in Syria

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.

Reuters (May 10, 2021): Algeria to ban unauthorised protests in move seen as targeting popular Hirak movement

Ivana Saric, Axios (May 9, 2021): Algeria restricts street protests

David Coffey, RFI (May 7, 2021): Algeria warns unions of groups ‘sowing sedition’ ahead of polls

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

Nasser Karimi and Jon Gambrell, AP (May 11, 2021): Registration opens for hopefuls in Iran’s presidential vote

AFP (May 10, 2021): Military candidates in Iran elections raise worry of further IRGC control

Thomas O. Falk, The New Arab (May 10, 2021): How the ‘Zarifgate tapes’ exposed Iran’s bitter power struggle ahead of decisive elections

Nahal Toosi, Politico (May 9, 2021): The one that gets away: Joe Biden’s jaded romance with Iran

AFP (May 8, 2021): Guards ex-official promises ‘powerful’ government in Iran presidential run

Atlantic Council (May 6, 2021): Supreme Leader directly intervenes in Iran’s June vote

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

Chloe Cornish, Financial Times (May 11, 2021): Iraqi Kurdistan’s authoritarian turn: western ally ‘discards idea of democracy’

Khazan Jangiz, Rudaw (May 10, 2021): Iraq must bring guns under control to ensure fair elections: MP

Al Jazeera (May 10, 2021): Iraq: Activist murder protests called as Iran consulate targeted

United Nations (May 5, 2021): Iraq’s Electoral Preparations and Processes Report No. 8

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

Missy Ryan, Washington Post (May 10, 2021): U.S. appointment of Libya envoy signals intensified push to end post-revolution instability

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 2022 (due)

Lebanon is due to hold general elections in May 2022, although some parties have called for early elections. Lebanon has been in a political crisis and without a government since the port explosion in Beirut, in which 215 people died, 7,500 were injured, and 300,000 were left homeless. Moreover, the country is in an economic crisis.

Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib, Arab News (May 10, 2021): The many models for long-awaited change in Lebanon

Palestinian Authority Presidential and Legislative Elections: Long overdue, postponed indefinitely

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

Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post (May 11, 2021): What is Hamas trying to achieve by fighting Israel? – analysis

Daoud Kuttab, Forward (May 7, 2021): The U.S. must fight for fair Palestinian elections — and Israel should, too

Adnan Abu Amer, Al-Monitor (May 7, 2021): Palestinian factions mull next steps after Abbas calls off elections

Hugh Lovatt, European Council on Foreign Relations (May 5, 2021): Cancellation costs: Abbas and Palestinian democracy

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. Netanyahu, whose conservative Likud party won the most seats, had the first chance to form a coalition, but he failed.

Subsequently, the president invited Yair Lapid from the centrist Yesh Atid (which placed second) to try. Reportedly, Lapid reached an agreement with Naftali Bennett from the right-wing Yamina on a coalition, backed by the United Arab List (Ra’am) party (a historic first as an Arab party has never before been part of an Israeli governing coalition). However, Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas has suspended talks until the violence that has exploded stops. More


Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times (May 11, 2021): Israelis, Palestinians and Their Neighbors Worry: Is This the Big One?

Jonathan Lis, Haaretz (May 10, 2021): Israel Coalition Talks: Islamist Party Freezes Negotiations in Wake of Jerusalem, Gaza Flare-up

NBC (May 10, 2021): Hundreds injured as Palestinians and Israeli forces clash on Jerusalem Day

Miriam Berger, Washington Post (May 10, 2021): What is happening in Jerusalem and Gaza?

i24 New (May 10, 2021): Israel: Presidential election set for June 2

Times of Israel (May 10, 2021): Report: Lapid, Bennett may ink preliminary coalition agreements within a day

Natasha Turak, CNBC (May 7, 2021): What’s next for Israel? 70% of Israelis see a fifth election happening

Linda Dayan, Haaretz (May 6, 2021): Israel’s Election System Is Bankrupt. Why Not Try These Extreme Out-of-the-box Alternatives?

Middle East Elections in 2021 and 2022

Syria Presidential Election: May 26, 2021

Algeria Snap Parliamentary Elections: June 10, 2021

Iran Presidential and Local Elections: June 18, 2021

Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Elections: June/July 2021 (proposed – date not set yet)

Jordan Local and Gubernatorial Elections: August 2021 (due)

Morocco Elections: September 2021 (exact date TBD)

Iraq Parliamentary Elections: October 10, 2021

Qatar Shura Council Elections: October 2021 (proposed)

Libya Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: December 24, 2021

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 2022 (due)

Bahrain Parliamentary Elections: Due in November 2022

Egypt Local Elections: Due and discussed, but not scheduled

Oman Municipal Elections: Due, but postponed due to COVID-19

Palestinian Authority Presidential and Legislative Elections: Long overdue, postponed yet again, no date set

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