Middle East This Week: February 1, 2022

February 1, 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.

Crusader castle in Sidon, Lebanon, built in the year 1228. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Heretiq (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

Jordan Local Elections: March 22, 2022

Jordan will hold local elections on March 22, 2022. These follow parliamentary elections, which happened on November 10, 2020. Turnout was low, and both women and Islamist candidates saw poor results. Subsequently, King Abdullah II announced a new high-level committee to enact political reforms. This is not the first such effort in Jordan, and past attempts at change have been a disappointment to those who hope for reform, but it could be promising. Despite challenges, Jordan has generally been stable and politically moderate.

Jordan has been a close partner of the United States for several decades, and was designated a major non-NATO ally in 1996. More

Hanna Davis, Al Jazeera (January 31, 2022): Jordan: Critics denounce reforms ‘enlarging king’s authority’: A recent spate of constitutional amendments will give even more power to Jordan’s monarch at the expense of government, opponents say.

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.

Ben Cohen, Jewish News Syndicate (February 1 2022): What row over caricatures of Arafat tells us about Palestinian politics

Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post (February 1, 2022): Algeria’s last chance saloon on Palestinian reconciliation

Reuters (January 31, 2022): Blinken Discusses Palestinian Authority Reform With Mahmoud Abbas

AFP (January 25, 2022): Palestinian museum pulls Yasser Arafat artwork after outrage

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.

Michael Young, The National UAE (February 1, 2022): With Hariri out, there is an imbalance of power in Lebanon’s Sunni community

Elise Ann Allen, Crux (February 1, 2022): Papal aide’s Lebanon visit will have political, pastoral tone

Reuters (January 30, 2022): Lebanon’s Hezbollah says it expects parliamentary election on time

Edward Gabriel, The Hill (January 29, 2022): An important turning point for Lebanon: Will it rise to the occasion?

Tom Perry and Laila Bassam, Reuters (January 26, 2022): Analysis: Lebanon slips further into Iran’s orbit as Hariri bows out

Dario Sabaghi, The New Arab (January 26, 2022): Lebanon’s 2022 elections: What to expect from the diaspora vote

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

Samy Magdy, AP (January 31, 2022): Libya’s lawmakers push for new PM after failing to hold vote

Edith M. Lederer, AP (January 31, 2022): UN extends Libya mission after US-Russia dispute over envoy

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (January 30, 2022): Libya elite told to end ‘game of musical chairs and focus on elections’: UN special adviser Stephanie Williams warns of resurgence of Islamic State if country is divided

Emily Milliken and Giorgio Cafiero, Al Jazeera (January 29, 2022): What next for world powers in war-torn Libya?

Benjamin Fox, Euractiv (January 25, 2022): EU reports ‘positive signs’ in Libya despite poll delay

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.

Financial Times (January 26, 2022): Tunisia’s president is leading it down a dangerous path

Pakistan General Elections: By October 12, 2023

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

Ron Synovitz and Daud Khattak, RFE/RL (January 31, 2022): Pakistan’s Hard-Line Islamists Emboldened By Afghan Taliban’s Victory

Dawn Pakistan (January 29, 2022): PM Imran seeks Punjab local elections at the earliest

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 31, 2022): Iraq’s political standoff continues as cleric Moqtada Al Sadr faces down rivals

Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post (January 31, 2022): Can Kurdish leaders bridge the Iraqi political gap? – analysis

Al-Monitor (January 28, 2022): Baghdad airport hit with rockets, no one hurt

Karwan Faidhi Dri, Rudaw (January 27, 2022): Iraqi parliament to elect a new president on February 7: statement

The New Arab (January 25, 2022): Iraq’s battle against IS cells grinds on in the desert

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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