Middle East This Week: May 18, 2021

May 18, 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.

A fruit market in Morocco. Morocco has scheduled its local, provincial, and legislative elections for September 8, 2021. Photo credit: Iwaria/CarlosZGZ (CC0)

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

Tessa Fox, Coda (May 19, 2021): Syria’s presidential election is a giant disinformation smokescreen

Amy Mackinnon, Foreign Policy (May 17, 2021): Putin’s Shadow Warriors Stake Claim to Syria’s Oil

Suleiman Al-khalidi, Reuters (May 11, 2021): Syria releases hundreds of social media critics ahead of election

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

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.

AFP (May 18, 2021): Algeria jails 31 protesters

Committee to Protect Journalists (May 17, 2021): Algerian police arrest at least 16 journalists, reporter Kenza Khattou remains in detention

AFP (May 15, 2021): Algerian police block pro-democracy demonstration, detain journalists

Arzeki Said, The Africa Report (May 13, 2021): Algeria dinar devaluation sparks fresh wave of social unrest

Malia Bouattia, The New Arab (May 13, 2021): Algeria’s Hirak is back, and it has a secret weapon

Lisa Schlein, Voice of America (May 12, 2021): Freedom of Speech, Assembly Under Attack in Algeria, UN Warns

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

Jon Gambrell, AP (May 15, 2021): Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief registers presidential run

Maziar Motamedi, Al Jazeera (May 15, 2021): Conservative Ebrahim Raisi tops Iran’s presidential candidates: Moderates protest systematic ‘removal’ of reformist candidates as conservatives and hardliners dominate the field.

AFP (May 14, 2021): Iran reformist figure presents candidacy for presidential race

Ali Fathollah-Nejad and Amin Naeni, Atlantic Council (May 13, 2021): Iran’s ‘reformists’ contemplate their post-election future

Lauren Giella, Newsweek (May 12, 2021): Mohammad Javad Zarif Confirms He Won’t Run in Iranian Presidential Election

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (May 11, 2021): Iran president criticises new rules for candidates as election begins

Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Elections: June/July 2021 (proposed)

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.

Faseeh Mangi, Bloomberg (May 19, 2021): Pakistan’s Ruling Party in Fresh Turmoil Over Breakaway Group

Sudha Ramachandran, The Diplomat (May 17, 2021): Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan: From Street Power to Electoral Force?

Morocco Legislative and Local Elections: September 8, 2021

Morocco has set legislative, provincial, and local elections for September 8, 2021. The elections are taking place in the context of discontentment and disillusionment. More

Fouad Aalouane, Rowaq Arabi (May 17, 2021): Elections and Democratic Transition in North Africa: The Case of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia

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

AFP (May 15, 2021): Iraq’s Sadr mobilises thousands at Baghdad pro-Palestinian rally

Edward Yeranian, Voice of America (May 12, 2021): Iraqi Government Steps Up Investigation into Killings of Protesters, Journalists

Neil Joseph Nakkash, Newsweek (May 12, 2021): Iraq’s Upcoming Election Likely to Disenfranchise Indigenous Assyrians | Opinion

Qatar Shura Council Elections: October 2021 (announced – date not set)

Qatar has announced that it will hold its first-ever parliamentary elections in October 2021. More

The Peninsula Qatar (May 19, 2021): Cabinet approves draft law on Shura Council’s electoral system

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

Reuters (May 18, 2021): U.S. Tripoli visit shows increased Libya focus after fighting

Safa Alharathy, Libya Observer (May16, 2021): Head of the High National Elections Commission: Preparation for elections end mid June

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.

Souad Lazkani, The 961 (May 17, 2021): President Aoun Confirms Parliamentary Elections Will Take Place Next Year… As It Should

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 16 of a four-year term. Similarly, the last Legislative Council elections took place in 2006. 

Since the announcement of the delay, the conflict with Israel has reignited. More

Nidal Al-mughrabi and Rami Ayyub, Reuters (May 17, 2021): Israel-Gaza conflict rages on despite U.S., regional diplomacy

Adam Rasgon, New York Times (May 17, 2021): Palestinian activists are calling for a general strike in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

Melissa George, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (May 14, 2021): Cancelled elections overshadowed by renewed Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Daniel L. Byman, Brookings Institution (May 12, 2021): Hamas tries to seize the day

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, and Bennett and other right-wingers previously opposed to Netanyahu are reportedly talking to Likud about potential coalitions. More

Anshel Pfeffer, Washington Post (May 18, 2021): Netanyahu didn’t start this Gaza crisis. But it could help keep him in power.

Michael Hauser Tov, Haaretz (May 18, 2021): Gideon Sa’ar Mulling Power Sharing Deal With Netanyahu, Despite Election Promise

Jerusalem Post (May 18, 2021): Lapid not giving up on unity government: ‘You won’t run our lives’

Tal Schneider and Raoul Wootliff, Times of Israel (May 13, 2021): Bennett rules out ‘change gov’t’ amid national unrest, renews talks with Likud

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 8, 2021

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

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.

Share This