Middle East This Week: December 28, 2021

December 28, 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.

Sousse, Tunisia. Tunisia holds a constitutional referendum in July followed by early legislative elections in December. Photo credit: Wikimedia/BishkekRocks (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

Libya Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: January 24, 2021 (delayed from December 2021 – additional delays possible)

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

Al Jazeera (December 24, 2021): Western powers urge Libya to set new election date ‘swiftly’

Jared Malsin, Wall Street Journal (December 22, 2021): Libya Delays Presidential Election Amid Concerns of Renewed Conflict: Election commission says it was impossible to develop a final list of candidates, proposes Jan. 24 for polls

Palestinian Authority Local Elections Phase 2: March 26, 2022

The Palestinian Authority is holding elections in two phases, the first of which took place on December 11, 2021, and the second of which is due on March 26, 2022. 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. 

Daoud Kuttab, Al-Monitor (December 15, 2021): Fatah wins small victory in Palestinian local elections

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 15, 2022

Lebanon has set parliamentary elections for May 15, 2022. 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 (December 27, 2021): Lebanon Sets May 15 Election Day for Parliamentary Polls

Reuters (December 25, 2021): Lebanon’s top Christian cleric issues elections plea

UN News (December 21, 2021): Guterres in Lebanon: Fair elections in 2022, an ‘essential opportunity’ for voices to be heard

Dave Gavlak, Voice of America (December 18, 2021): Lebanon’s March 2022 Parliamentary Elections: A Chance for Change?

Tunisia Constitutional Referendum: July 15, 2022 and Early Legislative Elections: December 17, 2022

Tunisia will hold a constitutional referendum and early elections in 2022, following protests sparked by President Kais Saied’s dismissal of the government, a move some deemed a coup.

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.

Political and civil society actors hope that the early elections can return Tunisia to a democratic path.

Sarah Yerkes, Carnegie Endowment (December 21, 2021): The Tunisian President’s Election Plan Is Troubling. So Is the U.S. Response.

Heba Saleh, Financial Times (December 14, 2021): Tunisia’s populist president promises elections next year: Kais Saied tightens control of the north African country but has yet to reveal economic plan

AFP (December 13, 2021): Tunisia president extends parliament suspension, sets election in 1 year

Turkey General Elections: By June 18, 2023 (snap elections possible)

Turkey is due for general elections in June 2023, but 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.

Kareem Fahim, Washington Post (December 21, 2021): As Turkey’s economy suffers, Erdogan’s opponents step up efforts aimed at unseating him

Pakistan General Elections: By October 12, 2023

Pakistan is due to hold its next general elections by October 12, 2023.

Umair Jamal, The Diplomat (December 29, 2021): Tough Days Ahead for Pakistan’s Ruling Party: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s defeat in its traditional stronghold of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa does not bode well for its electoral prospects in other parts of the country.

Faseeh Mangi and Ismail Dilawar, Bloomberg (December 21, 2021): Pakistan’s Imran Khan Concedes Election Loss in Stronghold Area

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

Ghassan Adnan and Stephen Kalin, Wall Street Journal (December 27, 2021): Iraq’s Top Court Endorses Election Results in Setback for Pro-Iran Faction: Decision paves the way for the formation of a new government dominated by a Shiite Muslim cleric

Dave Gavlak, Voice of America (December 26, 2021): In 2022, Iraq Expected to Struggle for Sovereignty Amid Tug of War

Afghanistan Presidential Election: September 28, 2019

Afghanistan held its last presidential election on September 28, 2019. Ashraf Ghani ultimately won re-election in a very tense vote and a tense four months in between the election and the final declaration of results, defeating his main rival, Abdullah Abdullan. The election took place amid attacks by the Taliban, which had ordered Afghans not to vote.

Following the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of much of the country, the future of Afghan politics remains uncertain.

Al Jazeera (December 25, 2021): ‘No need’: Taliban dissolves Afghanistan election commission

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Libya Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: January 24, 2021 (delayed from December 24, 2021 – additional delays possible)

Palestinian Authority Local Elections Phase 2: March 26, 2022

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 15, 2022

Tunisia Constitutional Referendum: July 25, 2022

Bahrain Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

Tunisia Early Legislative Elections: December 17, 2022

Turkey Presidential and Legislative Elections: By June 18, 2023

Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Parliamentary Elections: September 2023

Pakistan General Elections: By October 12, 2023

Israel Local Elections: October 2023

Oman Consultative Assembly Elections: October 2023

United Arab Emirates Federal National Council Elections: October 2023 (indirect elections, advisory body with limited powers)

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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