Middle East This Week: June 15, 2021

June 15, 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 sign in Tehran depicting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei’s Guardian Council has the final say on which candidates can run for election in Iran. Photo credit: Flickr/A. Davey (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

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

Al Monitor (June 16, 2021): Iran’s Reformists face tough choice between participation or boycotting election

AP (June 15, 2021): Reformist drops out of Iran election on last day of campaign

Miriam Berger, Washington Post (June 15, 2021): What to know about Ebrahim Raisi, the front-runner in Iran’s presidential election

Jon Gambrell, AP (June 15, 2021): Analysis: Subdued Iran vote will still impact wider Mideast

Bobby Ghosh, Bloomberg (June 15, 2021): Iran’s Election Is All About Supreme Leader’s Toxic Legacy

RFE/RL (June 12, 2021): Barred Big-Name Candidate Publicly Challenges Iran’s Election Vetters

AP (June 11, 2021): As Iran prepares to vote, its battered economy a major worry

The Economist (June 10, 2021): Iran has rigged its election to favour Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner

Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Elections: July 25, 2021

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), part of the Pakistan-administered portion of the disputed region of Kashmir, will hold elections on July 25, 2021. 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.

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.

The Nation Pakistan (June 10, 2021): Elections in AJK to be held on July 25

Jordan Local Elections: By September 2021 (due)

Jordan is due to hold local elections by September 2021. These follow parliamentary elections, which happened on November 10, 2020. Turnout was low, and both women and Islamist candidates saw poor resultsMore

David Linfield, Carnegie Endowment (June 16, 2021): Jordan Could Repair Public Rift With These Five Reforms

Osama al-Sharif, Arab News (June 16, 2021): Political will required for Jordanian reform to materialize

Khaled Yacoub Oweis, The National UAE (June 10, 2021): Jordan’s King Abdullah II forms committee to modernise political 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

Rym Momtaz, Politico (June 16, 2021): Macron pitches Biden on plan to get foreign fighters out of Libya

Ufuk Necat Tasci, TRT World (June 16, 2021): Will Gaddafi’s son make a run for Libya’s presidency?

Samer al-Atrush, The Times of London (June 11, 2021): Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam wants to run for Libya president

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 2022 (due)

Lebanon is due to hold general elections in May 2022, although some parties have called for early elections. The country 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, Lebanon is in an economic crisis.

Souad Lazkani, The961 (June 14, 2021): We Spoke To Nadine Moussa, Lebanon’s First Female Presidential Candidate & She Proposed Actual Solutions

Past 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. Ultimately, the FLN, the country’s long-dominant nationalist secular party, won the elections.

Reuters (June 15, 2021): Algeria’s FLN remains biggest party after election

Heba Saleh and Mohamed Arezki Himeur, Financial Times (June 15, 2021): Algeria on the brink as pandemic and low oil price take their toll

AP (June 13, 2021): Algeria election gets low turnout after boycotting

Edeard Yeranian, Voice of America (June 12, 2021): Algeria Holds First Parliamentary Elections Since Popular Revolt in 2019 

Andrew Farrand, Atlantic Council (June 10, 2021): Parliamentary elections won’t rescue Algeria from its legitimacy problem

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. 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 passed a Knesset vote on June 14, thus ending Netanyahu’s 12 years in office. More

New York Times (June 15, 2021): Israel’s Parliament Approves New Government, Ousting Netanyahu

Antonia Noori Farzan and Claire Parker, Washington Post (June 14, 2021): From Israel to Ireland, longtime opponents have formed odd coalitions to seize power

The Guardian (June 13, 2021 – video): Israeli elections: Raucous scenes in Knesset as Benjamin Netanyahu ousted from office

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal (June 13, 2021): Israel’s Electoral Lessons for the West: A new government takes power, but many parties led to years of stalemate.

Farah Swellam, Jerusalem Post (June 12, 2021): Ra’am: A party with a complex history, imperative in creating new gov’t: Though it is easy to not look beyond the label Islamist, there is more to Ra’am than what meets the eye.

Tunisia Presidential and Legislative Elections: September/October 2019

Tunisia began transitioning to democracy in 2011, amid the Arab Spring protests, and in 2019, held the third national elections since the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The results indicated a rejection of the main political parties and post-Ben Ali political ideologies (Islamism and secular liberalism). However, some concerns lingered about the democratic process.

Reuters (June 15, 2021): Tunisia President wants debate on new political system, constitutional amendment

Hande Ortay and Hamoon Khelghat-Doost, Daily Sabah (June 15, 2021): Will the women of the Arab Spring change Tunisia?

Simon Speakman Cordall, The Guardian (June 15, 2021): Protests over police violence spread through Tunisian capital

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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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