Middle East

November 16, 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.

A mix of ancient and modern buildings in Tripoli. Libya is due to hold elections in December. Photo credit: Wikimedia/anchishkyn (CC BY 3.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

Palestinian Authority Local Elections Stage 1 of 2: December 11, 2021, plus Presidential and Legislative Elections: Long overdue, postponed indefinitely

The Palestinian Authority has proposed holding local elections on December 11, 2021. The PA 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. 

Aaron Boxerman, Times of Israel (November 10, 2021): After national vote nixed, PA seeks legitimacy in local elections: With a 2-part structure that starts with Fatah strongholds and leaves contested cities for later, ballots are seen by some as just an attempt to hush increasingly loud critics

Libya Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: December 24, 2021

Libya’s national elections are overdue and have been postponed 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. At this point, it looks like the elections are moving forward, with candidates declaring. However, delays are always possible.

Since the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s dictatorship in 2011, Libya has been in crisis. The country is important because of its oil resources, as well as its ports, which have become a springboard for migrants to Europe. As such, foreign powers remain heavily involved. More

Wolfram Lacher and Emadeddin Badi, Washington Post (November 16, 2021): Many Libyans already dismiss next month’s elections as illegitimate: No prominent candidates appear to have support across Libya’s regional and political divisions.

DW (November 16, 2021): Libya: Former military commander Hifter to run for president

Vivian Yee, New York Times (November 14, 2021): Qaddafi Son to Run for President in Libya

Al-Monitor (November 13, 2021): World powers warn Libya election obstructors could face sanctions: World leaders gathered in Paris on Friday for a high-level conference aimed at ensuring Libya’s elections go ahead as planned.

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: March 27, 2022

Lebanon has set parliamentary elections for March 27, 2022, over a month early. 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.

Reuters (November 12, 2021): Lebanon information minister says he is not challenging Mikati or Saudi Arabia

Sarah El Deeb, AP (November 10, 2021): Not a game show: Ex-TV star at center of Lebanon-Saudi row

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

Edith M. Lederer, AP (November 15, 2021): UN condemns attempts to discredit Iraq’s recent election

AFP (November 12, 2021): Supporters of pro-Iran groups in Iraq protest against vote ‘fraud’

Shawn Yuan, Al Jazeera (November 12, 2021): Is Iran losing some of its grip on Shia militias in Iraq? The assassination attempt on Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi has brought the divisions within pro-Iran militias to the fore.

Adnan Abu Zeed, Al-Monitor (November 10, 2021): Iraq’s Sadrist movement in talks on forming government

Renad Mansour, Foreign Affairs (November 10, 2021): Iraq’s Protesters Become Parliamentarians: A Tenuous Coalition Seeks to Topple Baghdad’s Elite Consensus

Caitlin Schaer, DW (November 9, 2021): After assassination attempt, what next for Iraq? After losing in the latest federal election, supporters of some Iraqi political parties have resorted to riots and even likely drone attacks to avoid being sidelined. Could the situation escalate?

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).

Patrick S. Snyder, Washington Post (November 16, 2021): Morocco’s Islamist party just lost power. So why is it turning to its old leader?

Kuwait Parliamentary Elections: December 5, 2020

Kuwait held parliamentary elections on December 5, 2020. As could be expected, COVID-19 and the government’s response shaped public debate ahead of the elections. Meanwhile, populism is on the rise, exacerbated by the pandemic and falling oil prices. More

Stratfor (November 16, 2021): Kuwait: Political Dissidents Return Home After Being Pardoned by Emir

Fiona MacDonald, Bloomberg (November 15, 2021): Kuwait Crown Prince to Temporarily Assume Some of Ruler’s Duties

Reuters (November 14, 2021): Kuwait emir accepts govt resignation – state news agency

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.

Heba Saleh, Financial Times (November 15, 2021): Life after Tunisia’s coup: ‘This is a moment of counter revolution’

Al Jazeera (November 15, 2021): Tunisian labour union opposes parliament return, urges elections

Tarek Amara, Reuters (November 14, 2021): Tunisian protesters try to march on suspended parliament

Sharan Grewal, Brookings Institution (November 10, 2021): Why the West must continue pushing for Tunisian democracy

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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