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
Maryam accuses PM Imran of ‘buying votes’ ahead of AJK elections https://t.co/caNC6hBZB9
— Dawn.com (@dawn_com) July 9, 2021
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
— Brookings FP (@BrookingsFP) July 10, 2021
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.
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
“[President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan wants to stop them long before an election.”
The Turkish government is trying to take the wind out of the sails of opposition mayors Ekrem Imamoglu and Mansur Yavas ahead of elections due in 2023, experts say:https://t.co/JD6dtjvrtk
— Balkan Insight (@BalkanInsight) July 9, 2021
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
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) July 13, 2021
Dilan Sirwan, Rudaw (July 13, 2021): On anniversary of Ghassemlou death, Iran’s Kurds warn of ‘terror’ under Raisi
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
Bahrain Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)
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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