Middle East This Week: January 11, 2022

January 11, 2022

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 neighborhood of Ras Beirut in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Karas Jain (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

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 17 of a four-year term. Similarly, the last Legislative Council elections took place in 2006. 

Hamas, which controls Gaza, did not allow the local elections to take place there in December and has said it will also bar the March elections.

Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post (January 3, 2022): Hamas says rejects municipal elections in Gaza

Hazem Balousha, Arab News (January 3, 2022): Palestinian parties urged to remove obstacles for local elections in Gaza and West Bank

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, with its currency hitting record lows and crippling inflation.

Many Lebanese people are in a state of despair, but some have hope that the upcoming elections could bring a hint of change.

Al-Monitor (January 11, 2022): Protesters block roads in Lebanon as currency hits new low

Jennifer Holleis and Razan Salman, DW (January 8, 2022): Lebanon’s PM to Hezbollah: ‘For God’s sake, have mercy’

William Christou, The New Arab (January 5, 2022): Lebanon MPs to regain immunity in Beirut blast probe following new parliament session

Arwa Damon, CNN (December 30, 2021): Lebanon’s soul has been eviscerated by its financial crisis. Not even the children want to play

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.

Cathrin Schaer and Tarak Guizani, DW (January 12, 2022): Tunisia’s first digital political consultation divides opinions: The country’s first-ever digital consultation on a new constitution is part of Tunisian President Kais Saied’s path out of a political crisis. But like Saied himself, online innovation has received mixed reactions.

Anthony Dworkin, European Council on Foreign Relations (January 11, 2022): Tunisia’s lengthy road map back to democracy

Stratfor (December 30, 2021): 2022 Reforms Will Place Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains on the Line

Libya Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: Delayed from December 2021 – could possibly happen by June 2022

Libya’s national elections are overdue and have been postponed due to the political crisis and civil war. Most recently, the country missed the scheduled date of December 24, 2021 for the polls, and it is unclear when they will happen. The UN has urged elections by June 2022.

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

Anchal Vohra, Foreign Policy (January 4, 2022): Elections Can’t Fix What’s Wrong With Libya

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.

Andrew Wilks, Al-Monitor (January 5, 2022): Turkey’s opposition faces Erdogan’s ire as economic crisis muddles election timetable: Opposition parties are under growing pressure as Turkey waits to see if Recep Tayyip Erdogan will call early elections despite skyrocketing prices.

Soner Cagaptay, Foreign Affairs (January 4, 2022): Erdogan’s End Game: Will He Undermine Turkish Democracy to Stay in Power?

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 ultimately reversed course and urged his followers to support the elections. He subsequently proceeded to win the elections. However, other parties – specifically, pro-Iran Shi’ite parties – challenged the election results. The Supreme Court rejected the challenge, and Sadr, who opposes both Iranian and American influence in Iraqi politics – will be the kingmaker in the new government. More

Sinan Mahmoud, The National UAE (January 11, 2022): Pro-Iran Shiite factions in Iraq warn of ‘tough days’ amid election row

Ahmed Rasheed and Haider Khadim, Reuters (January 10, 2022): Iraq’s new parliament elects speaker in first step towards establishing a govt

Al Jazeera (January 9, 2022): Chaotic scenes as Iraq’s new parliament holds first session: The speaker selection process was disrupted as competing political blocs claimed to hold a parliamentary majority.

Celine Alkhaldi, Aqeel Najim, CNN and Reuters (December 28, 2021): Iraq’s supreme court ratifies contested election results

Upcoming Kurdistan Regional Elections: September 2023 (due)

Elections for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are due in September 2023.

Layal Shakir, Rudaw (January 5, 2022): Upcoming Kurdistan Region election to be held on time: ruling parties

Regional Analysis

Al-Monitor (December 31, 2021): Middle East elections had consequences in 2021

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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