Middle East This Week: August 3, 2021

August 3, 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 town of Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia. Tunisia is in the midst of political turmoil following the president’s dismissal of the government, a move critics have called a coup. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Rene Cortin (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

Iraq Early Parliamentary Elections: October 10, 2021 (tentative) and Provincial Elections (due)

Iraq plans to hold early elections on October 10, postponed from the original proposal of holding them on June 6, 2021, one year early, following the demands of protesters. 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.

A number of political parties have announced plans to boycott the polls, including the Shi’ite firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s most influential politicians. More

Nancy Ezzededine and Erwin Van Veen, War on the Rocks (August 4, 2021): Warning signs: Qassem Musleh and Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces

Farhad Alaaldin, Rudaw (August 2, 2021): Sadr’s withdrawal disturbs power balance, weakens elections

Agenzia Fides (July 30, 2021): Political party of Christians announces the boycott of the next parliamentary elections

The National UAE (July 29, 2021): US envoy to Iraq: early elections possible despite attempts to discredit them

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

Egypt Today (August 2, 2021): Voter registration for Libya’s upcoming elections extended for 2 weeks

UN News (July 30, 2021): Mercenaries ‘impede’ peace, must leave Libya to allow elections

Robert F. Worth and Jehad Nga, New York Times (July 30, 2021 – with photo essay): Qaddafi’s Son Is Alive. And He Wants to Take Libya Back.

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 30, 2021): Qatar’s emir approves electoral law for first legislative polls

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.

Darin LaHood, Darrell Issa, and Charlie Crist, The Hill (August 4, 2021): US must support Lebanon as it faces economic and political instability

Ben Hubbard and Bryan Denton, New York Times (August 4, 2021 – photo essay): Collapse: Inside Lebanon’s Worst Economic Meltdown in More Than a Century

Anchal Vohra. Foreign Policy (August 4, 2021): Lebanon’s Billionaire Prime Minister Can Only Buy Time: A year after Beirut’s devastating port blast, the country’s political class is desperately trying to avoid a political reckoning.

Elise Ann Allen, Crux (August 4, 2021): One year after Beirut blast, vast political overhaul is needed, priest says

Mohamad Bazzi, CNN (August 3, 2021): A year after massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon’s crisis deepens

Leela Jacinto, France24 (August 2, 2021): Beirut blast propels activist from street protests to political action

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 30, 2021): Rights groups call on Bahrain to release prominent hunger striker

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.

Carlotta Gall, New York Times (August 4, 2021): Turks Wage War on Social Media as Raging Fires Turn Political: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under a concerted attack by his opponents over his handling of the worst forest fires in decades.

Onur Ant, Bloomberg (July 31, 2021): Turkey’s Government, Pro-Kurdish Party Spar Over Murdered Family

Aykan Erdemir and Sude Akgundogdu, The National Interest (July 30, 2021): Erdogan Escalates Turkish Campaign to Disenfranchise Six Million Pro-Kurdish Voters

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. More

James Rothwell, The Telegraph (August 1, 2021): Palestinian Authority intensifies crackdown on protesters over death of activist in custody: Why the cancellations of elections and the death of a prominent activist are fuelling tensions in West Bank

Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters (August 1, 2021): Haniyeh Re-Elected as Chief of Palestinian Islamist Group Hamas

Daniel Rice, Foreign Brief (July 31, 2021): Palestinian Presidential election indefinitely postponed

Past 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, held 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 and generally complicates the geopolitics of the region.

Times of India (August 4, 2021): Explained: What Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan plan means for India, China

Radio Mashaal, RFE/RL (August 4, 2021): Pakistani Opposition Decries Alleged Former Militant’s Spot On Ruling Party List

Dunya News (July 29, 2021): PML-N announces countrywide protest after alleging rigging in AJK polls

Umair Jamal, The Diplomat (July 29, 2021): Elections in Pakistan’s Kashmir Highlight Domination by Mainland Parties

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. 

Raisi’s win complicates things for the Biden administration, which is seeking to restore the nuclear deal that the Trump administration left. More

Bonnie Kristian, The Week (August 3, 2021): Biden’s Iran miscalculation

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.  Political outsider and populist Kais Saied won the presidency. 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.

In July 2021, Saied dismissed the government, a move that some deemed a coup.

Stratfor (August 4, 2021): Tunisia Braces for a Prolonged Political Crisis

Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institution (August 3, 2021): Tunisia, democracy, and the return of American hypocrisy

Magdi Abdelhadi, BBC (August 3, 2021): Tunisia crisis: Democrats, despots and the fight for power

Elizia Volkmann, Al Jazeera (August 3, 2021): ‘Defining moment’: What’s next for Tunisia’s Ennahdha? Tunisia’s largest parliamentary party faces an existential threat after President Saied assumed executive powers

Heba Saleh, Financial Times (August 2, 2021): Weary Tunisians welcome president’s power grab; A decade on from a democratic revolution, many see the return of one-man rule as an antidote to corruption

Simon Speakman Cordall, Time (July 30, 2021): Tunisia’s President Staged What Looks Like a Coup. But Democracy Isn’t Dead There Yet

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Morocco Legislative, Provincial, and Local Elections: September 8, 2021

Jordan Local and Gubernatorial Elections: September 2021 (due)

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