Middle East This Week: January 25, 2022

January 25, 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 Mansouri Great Mosque – dating from the 13th century – in Tripoli, Lebanon. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Heretiq (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

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

Jacob Mundy, The Conversation (January 25, 2022): A decade later, no end in sight for Libya’s political transition

Francesco Bongarrà, Arab News (January 25, 2022): Libya should hold elections as soon as possible, avoid ‘new transitional phase’: Italy

Reuters (January 24, 2022): Libyan parliament committee urges change of interim PM: Committee also says it would take at least nine months to prepare for a new election to avoid fraud and ensure security.

AFP (January 23, 2022): Libyan PM wants constitution before elections

Palestinian Authority Local Elections Phase 2: March 26, 2022 and General Elections: Long Overdue

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.

Jehad Barakat, Al Jazeera (January 25, 2022): Why is the Palestinian Authority cracking down on opposition?

Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post (January 24, 2022): The Ramallah ‘gentleman’ who could become PA president

Mohammad Al-Kassim, The Media Line (January 19, 2022): Abbas Reelected Fatah Leader and Eyes More Mandates in Next PLO Meeting

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.

Tamara Qiblawi, CNN (January 24, 2022): Lebanon’s Hariri withdraws from politics, leaving sectarian vacuum behind

Ben Hubbard, New York Times (January 24, 2022): Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s Former Prime Minister, Quits Politics: He was the leader of the country’s Sunni Muslims, one of the three main sects that share power, and the scion of a prominent political dynasty.

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.

Nisan Ahmado, Polygraph.info (January 25, 2022): More ‘Guaranteed’ Freedom Than Ever in Tunisia? Not So Much

Al Jazeera (January 24, 2022): Tunisia president’s top aide quits over ‘fundamental differences’: Nadia Akacha has been described as President Saied’s closest and most trusted adviser.

Africanews (January 21, 2022): Tunisia President denies country is returning to authoritarianism

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 25, 2022): Iraqi court rejects bid to annul outcomes of first parliamentary session

Al-Monitor (January 22, 2022): Islamic State escalates violence across Baghdad Belt: Terrorist attacks increase as Iraq continues government formation process.

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.

Kathy Gannon, AP (January 20, 2022): Taliban storm Kabul apartment, arrest activist, her sisters

David Zucchino and Yaqoob Akbary, New York Times (January 24, 2022): Threatened and Beaten, Afghan Women Defy Taliban With Protests

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Libya Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: Overdue (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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