Middle East This Week: May 25, 2021

May 25, 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 street in Damascus. Syria holds a sham presidential election on May 26. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Mappo (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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

Jennifer Holleis, DW (May 25, 2021): Syria’s sham election guarantees 1 thing — Bashar Assad will win

Dominic Evans and Hams Rabah, Reuters (May 25, 2021): As Assad tightens grip on Syria, many refugees lose hope

Hamada Elrasam, Voice of America (May 24, 2021): Syria Holds Presidential Elections that Many See as Symbolic

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.

Al Jazeera (May 22, 2021): Hundreds arrested as Algeria cracks down on protest movement

Africanews (May 21, 2021): Algeria legislative elections: Campaigns begin

Lamine Chikhi, Reuters (May 19, 2021): Algerian protesters face crunch point as police prepare crackdown

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

AP (May 25, 2021): Iran, World Powers Resume Talks on US Return to Nuclear Deal

Reuters (May 25, 2021): Iran approves hardliner for presidential polls, bars several hopefuls

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (May 25, 2021): Iran’s leadership accused of fixing presidential election: Guardian Council’s bar on reformist candidates has left narrow field of hardliners for June poll

AP (May 25, 2021): Iran state TV: 7 approved for June 18 presidential election

AFP (May 23, 2021): Iran’s polls set to split divided conservatives in two

Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL (May 22, 2021): Disgruntled Iranians Say ‘No Way,’ Call For Boycott Of June Presidential Election

Al-Monitor (May 19, 2021): Raisi, Larijani likely top candidates for Iran’s presidential election

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

Samya Kullab, AP (May 25, 2021): 1 killed as protesters scuffle with Iraqi security forces

AFP (May 24, 2021): Killings in Iraq spark calls for election boycott

Layal Shakir, Rudaw (May 22, 2021): Iraqi election candidate assassinated: party leader

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

Al Jazeera (May 20, 2021): Qatar cabinet approves draft law on Shura Council elections

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

Dorian Jones, Voice of America (May 25, 2021): Turkey Under Fire Over Military Presence in Libya

Dave Lawler, Axios (May 24, 2021): Libya’s fragile moment of unity

Sami Zaptia, Libya Herald (May 22, 2021): Libya is 70 percent ready to hold 24 December elections, with the 30 percent legal measures still outstanding: Election Commission

UN News (May 21, 2021): Libya: Ceasefire, planned elections, offer rare window of hope, Security Council hears

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.

Kareem Chehayeb, Al Jazeera (May 24, 2021): ‘Little hope left’: Lebanon’s paralysis and a collapsing state

Najia Houssari, Arab News (May 24, 2021): Lebanese parties reject the return to ‘militia behavior’ amid anger over pro-Assad rallies

Turkey General Elections: By June 25, 2023 (snap elections possible)

Although Turkey is not due for general elections until 2023, there have been rumors of possible snap elections.

Burhanetin Duran, Daily Sabah (May 25, 2021): Critical centennial elections in Turkey

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 between Hamas and Israel reignited. Following 11 days of fighting, the parties reached a ceasefire on May 20. More

Michelle Kelemen, NPR (May 25, 2021): Blinken Has Promised More Aid For Palestinians, Continued Support For Israel

Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations (May 24, 2021): Palestinian Politics After the Gaza Conflict

Mariah Franklin, Foreign Brief (May 22, 2021): First Palestinian elections in 15 years to be postponed

Emad Mouss, The New Arab (May 20, 2021): Why cancelled elections cast a long shadow over Palestinian political revival

Eli Lake, Bloomberg (May 19, 2021): A Cease-Fire Is Not Enough When It Comes to Hamas: The U.S. and its allies need to help Palestinians improve their elections and civil society.

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.

Yair Lapid from the centrist Yesh Atid is currently trying to form a coalition, but a fifth election remains a possibility. More

Michael Hauser Tov and Noa Shpigel, Haaretz (May 24, 2021): Israel Election: Sa’ar Rules Out Joining Netanyahu-led Government After Reports of Negotiations

Idan Zonshine, Jerusalem Post (May 23, 2021): Lapid, Gantz rising in first election polls after Gaza conflict

James Rothwell, The Telegraph (May 22, 2021): Israel’s prime minister heading for fifth election after Gaza conflict saves political career

Danielle Pletka, The Dispatch (May 21, 2021): Why Israel Might Be Headed Toward Yet Another Parliamentary Election

Josef Federman, AP (May 20, 2021): Netanyahu’s prospects bolstered amid Israel-Hamas fighting

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

Reuters (May 25, 2021): Kuwait opposition MPs take ministers’ seats in parliament protest

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

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