Middle East

July 14, 2021

A weekly review 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.

The skyline of Amman, Jordan’s capital. Jordan is due to hold local elections soon. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Jmossjm (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

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.

Fazal Sher, Business Recorder Pakistan (July 13, 2021): AJK elections: Over 7000 security personnel to be deployed: Rashid

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 results. Subsequently, King Abdullah II announced a new high-level committee to enact political reforms. This is not the first such effort in Jordan, and past attempts at change have been a disappointment to those who hope for reform, but it could be promising. More

Jordan Times (July 12, 2021): Royal Committee to Modernise Political System reviews sub-committees’ progress

Al-Monitor (July 8, 2021): King Abdullah to be first Arab head of state to meet with Biden

James Arnold, The Hill (July 7, 2021): Judicial reform could ease corruption and stabilize Jordan and the Middle East

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. The country is also due to hold provincial (sometimes called governorate) elections. Preparations are taking place in the context of widespread protest and political instability. More

Ghaith Abdu-Ahad, The Guardian (July 11, 2021): ‘They will never let go’: Isis fighters regroup in the heart of Iraq

Al Jazeera (July 11, 2021): Iraq PM visits pro-democracy activist after abduction, assault

Dr Zana Gulmohamad, The New Arab (July 7, 2021): October revolution: How Iraq’s protest movement parties are shaping the political debate

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

Reuters (July 11, 2021): Qatar sets up supervisory body for first legislative 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

Alessandra Bocchi, Wall Street Journal (July 13, 2021): Biden Can Make Up for Obama’s Libya Neglect: A diplomatic push for fair elections in December would serve U.S. interests.

Abdulkader Assad, Libya Observer (July 10, 2021): US official: Libyan elections must be held on time

Bahrain Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

Bahrain is due to hold parliamentary elections in November 2022. Since a 2011 uprising, Bahrain has become increasingly authoritarian and repressive, especially vis a vis the Shi’ite opposition (Bahrain is more than half Shi’hite but ruled by a Sunni royal family). The opposition was barred from participating in the last elections in 2018. Moreover, the monarch has executive power as well as the power to appoint the prime minister and cabinet. Therefore, parliament is generally not very powerful.

Al Jazeera (July 13, 2021): Death sentences in Bahrain ‘dramatically escalated’ since 2011

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

Ibrahim Husseini, Al Jazeera (July 13, 2021): Anti-PA rallies put Palestinian leaders on notice: Demonstrators demand thorough investigation into the death of critic Nizar Banat, a date for general elections, and recalibrating the PA and the PLO to serve ‘popular agendas’.

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, and more than half of Turkish citizens want an early vote. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power since 2003, and although the party initially ran on a reformist platform, it has become increasingly authoritarian. A 2017 constitutional change, with passed very narrowly in a referendum, replaced the parliamentary system with a presidential system, and gave the presidency new powers. Freedom House subsequently downgraded Turkey from Partly Free to Not Free in 2018.

More recently, AKP sought to annul the 2019 Istanbul mayoral election after Ekrem İmamoğlu from the main opposition Republican Party (CHP) won (İmamoğlu ultimately won the re-vote and was sworn in as mayor).

Simon A. Waldman, Haaretz (July 14, 2021): Erdogan’s Big Lie: Why Turkey’s President Rewrote the History of the 2016 Coup

Selim Sazak, Foreign Policy (July 13, 2021): Turkey’s Left-Wing ‘Squad’ Is Coming for Erdogan

The Economist (July 10, 2021): Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s image and Turkey’s economy are both taking a battering

Past Middle East Elections

Iran Presidential and Local Elections: June 18, 2021

Iran held its next presidential election on June 18, 2021, with concurrent local elections. While Iran is far from a free country, and the elections are largely rigged, voters have in the past had a degree of choice. However, this year’s election was even more rigged than usual. The Guardian Council (which must approve all candidacies) allowed seven candidates on the ballot and mostly excluded moderates and establishment figures, among them a number of prominent names. This seemed to be calculated to clear the way for hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi to win, and he did in fact win. More

Dilan Sirwan, Rudaw (July 13, 2021): On anniversary of Ghassemlou death, Iran’s Kurds warn of ‘terror’ under Raisi

Al-Monitor (July 9, 2021): Why Iranian celebrities took a break from politics: Unlike in previous years, Iran’s celebrities went quiet during the June election.

Ebad Ebadi, Atlantic Council (July 8, 2021): Raisi’s proposed economic policy plan for Iran doesn’t make sense

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

Algeria held snap elections on June 12, 2021, following more than two years of protests by the Hirak movement. However, the government’s election plan did not actually satisfied the Hirak, who boycotted the elections and continue to protest. 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.

Le Parisien with AFP (July 12, 2021 – in French): Algeria: Hirak activist sentenced to two years in prison, according to NGO

Siobhán O’Grady, Washington Post (July 9, 2021): As Algeria’s revolutionaries fade away, the iconic Milk Bar bomber looks back without regret

Reuters (July 7, 2021): Algeria forms new government with energy and finance ministers unchanged

Syria Presidential Election: May 26, 2021

Syria held its presidential election for May 26, 2021. The election happened 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

Khalid Jar’atli, Enab Baladi (July 14, 2021): Foreign jihadists’ complex relation with Syrian society

The New Arab (July 13, 2021): Syrian opposition coalition elects Salem al-Muslet as new leader

Mohammed Hardan, Al-Monitor (July 13, 2021): Kurdish parties split over Russian invitation for dialogue with Syrian government

Mousa Mohamed and Ayat Qadomee, Global Voices (July 10, 2021): A decade after the first siege, Assad’s regime besieges Daraa, the cradle of the Syrian Revolution: In retaliation for rejecting May’s election, a siege began on June 25

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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

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

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