Middle East This Week: October 12, 2021

October 12, 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 Archaeological Museum of Libya, located in the ancient Red Castle in Tripoli. Photo credit: Wikimedia/David Stanley (CC BY-2.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

Algeria Early Local Elections: November 27, 2021

Algeria plans to hold early local elections on November 27, 2021. These follow the snap elections held 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.

IFEX (October 5, 2021): Algeria: Journalists and press freedom under attack

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

Amanda Morrow, RFI (October 7, 2021): West has ‘no choice’ but to support Libyan election delay: analysts

Daily Sabah (October 6, 2021): Libya’s parliamentary elections rescheduled for January

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.

Marc Pierini, Carnegie Europe (October 12, 2021): The High Cost of An Unpredictable Turkey

Daren Butler and Birsen Altayli, Reuters (October 8, 2021): Turkish opposition deepens cooperation, heaping pressure on Erdogan

Daily Sabah/Andalou Agency (October 6, 2021): Opposition bloc to have sole presidential candidate: IP’s Akşener

Ahval (October 6, 2021): Turkey’s opposition alliance surpasses governing coalition in polls

Past Middle East Elections

Iraq Early Parliamentary Elections: October 10, 2021

Iraq held early elections on October 10 (postponed from the original proposal of holding them on June 6, 2021, one year early) as a result of the pro-democracy protests that began in 2019. The country is also due to hold provincial (sometimes called governorate) elections.

The elections took place in the context of widespread protest and political instability. The political climate is violent and chaotic, with over 600 people killed since the start of the protests. Moreover, a number of political parties have announced plans to boycott the polls.

The Shi’ite firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s most influential politicians, had announced a boycott, but has reversed course and urged his followers to support the elections. He subsequently proceeded to win the elections. More

Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim, Washington Post (October 12, 2021): Populist Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr dominates Iraqi elections marked by low turnout

Reuters (October 12, 2021): Iraqi pro-Iranian politician Amiri rejects election results as fabricated – TV

AP (October 11, 2021): Partial results show pro-Iran groups losing Iraq election: The results also showed the bloc of Iraq’s populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr maintaining the most seats in parliament.

Zeina Karam and Qassim Abdul-Zahra, AP (October 9, 2021): EXPLAINER: Why do Iraq’s elections matter to the world?

Jane Arraf, New York Times (October 7, 2021): In Iraqi Elections, Guns and Money Still Dominate Politics

AFP (October 6, 2021): In Iraq vote, big blocs lurk behind ‘independents’

Shawn Yuan, Al Jazeera (October 5, 2021): ‘Dominate the system’: Iraqis wary vote won’t change old guard

Morocco Legislative and Local Elections: September 8, 2021

Morocco held legislative, provincial, and local elections on September 8, 2021. The elections took place in the context of discontentment and disillusionment. The moderate Islamic democratic Party of Justice and Development (PJD), which won the most seats in the 2016 elections, lost badly and will not form the next government.

Although the current monarch, King Mohammed VI, has instituted a number of political reforms, he still plays a major role in governing, both through formal structures and informally. Following the 2011 constitutional reforms, the king must appoint a prime minister from the party that wins the most seats in parliament, but the king can still circumvent elected officials in various ways (including dissolving parliament or simply issuing decrees).

Al Jazeera (October 7, 2021): Morocco names new government, keeps foreign, interior ministers

Souhail Karam, Bloomberg (October 7, 2021): Morocco Names Post-Islamist Cabinet as It Plans Economic Revamp

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. The move has sparked protests and condemnations from political and civil society actors in Tunisia.

Mariam Abdel Baky and Olfa Lamloum, openDemocracy (October 19, 2021): Tunisia’s president has given himself unprecedented powers. How will he use them?

Elizia Volkmann, Al-Monitor (October 18, 2021): Activists call Tunisia’s first female prime minister mere distraction

AP (October 14, 2021): Tunisia’s President Saied revokes predecessor’s passport

Sihem Bensedrine, Washington Post (October 13, 2021): Opinion: Why sliding back into autocracy won’t solve Tunisia’s problems

AP (October 11, 2021): Tunisia gets new government, appoints record number of women

Al Jazeera (October 9, 2021): Ex-Tunisia president calls for protests against Kais Saied

Elizia Volkmann, Al-Monitor (October 5, 2021): US-Tunisian military cooperation tested by Saied’s actions

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Algeria Early Local Elections: November 27, 2021

Palestinian Authority Local Elections Stage 1 of 2: December 11, 2021 (tentative)

Libya Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: December 24, 2021

Jordan Local and Gubernatorial Elections: Fall 2021 (due)

Lebanon Early Parliamentary Elections: March 27, 2022

Bahrain Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

Egypt Local Elections: Due and discussed, but not scheduled

Oman Local 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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