Middle East

June 8, 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 cable car on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, birthplace of Naftali Bennett. Bennett will become Israel’s next prime minister if his coalition passes a Knesset vote later this month, thus ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s record 12 years in office. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Gilabrand (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

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.

Simon Speakman Cordall, The Independent (June 7, 2021): ‘Clear escalation’ in government repression as Algeria heads to the polls after a time of protest

Luke Shrago, France24 (June 7, 2021 – video): Algeria Prepares for Legislative Elections

Abdelkader Abderrahmane, Atlantic Council (June 3, 2021): Algeria’s parliamentary elections: A bumpy road ahead

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. For this election, the Guardian Council (which must approve all candidacies) has allowed seven candidates on the ballot, and mostly excluded moderates and establishment figures, including a number of prominent names. This seemed to be calculated to clear the way for hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi to win. More

Maziar Motamedi, Al Jazeera (June 8, 2021): ‘Game show’: Iranian candidates slam debate format, trade barbs

Reuters (June 8, 2021): Iran says nuclear talks policy won’t change after presidential vote

Shabnam von Hein, Qantara.de (June 7, 2021 – photo essay): Iran’s presidential election: Contest of losers

Bahar Makooi, France24 (June 6, 2021): Iran’s presidential race: Who is ultra-conservative favourite Ebrahim Raisi?

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.

Tariq Nasqash, Dawn Pakistan (June 4, 2021): Minister claims PML-N will sweep next AJK 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

Wolfgang Pusztai, Atlantic Council (June 4, 2021): Libya’s fragile ceasefire: A lost opportunity?

Noha Elhennawy, AP (June 4, 2021): Rights group urges abolition of restrictive NGO law in Libya

Daily Sabah with AFP (June 3, 2021): Former Libyan Minister Bashagha urges govt not to delay polls

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

Hugh Lovatt, The New Arab (June 7, 2021): Why Gaza’s future depends on elections, not Abbas

Jacob Magid, Times of Israel (June 7, 2021): Blinken surmises that Abbas delayed Palestinian elections over fears of Hamas gains

Griff Witte and Sufian Taha, Washington Post (June 4, 2021): Palestinian support for Hamas surges after its confrontation with 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. Netanyahu, whose conservative Likud party won the most seats, had the first chance to form a coalition, but he failed. Subsequently,Yair Lapid from the centrist Yesh Atid formed a broad coalition with conservative Naftali Bennett, with Bennett as prime minister for a time before rotating the position to Lapid. A number of other parties are in the coalition, which has to pass a Knesset vote on June 14. More

Robert Zaretsky, Forward (June 7, 2021): Why the new Israeli coalition seems like something out of an ‘Avengers’ movie

Jeffrey Heller, Reuters (June 6, 2021): Netanyahu alleges Israeli election fraud, accuses rival of duplicity

Isabel Kershner, New York Times (June 6, 2021): ‘Fear and Vigilance’: Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Face a Fall from Power

New York Times (June 3, 2021): Wide-Ranging Israel Coalition Reaches Deal to Form Government

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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 Legislative, Provincial, and Local 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: November 2022 (due)

Algeria Local Elections: November 2022 (due – earlier elections possible)

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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