February 15, 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 casbah in Sfax, Tunisia. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Csisc (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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
Rana Husseini, Jordan Times (February 9, 2022): 4,820 hopefuls register for local elections — IEC
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.
Mohammad Al-Kassim, The Media Line (February 15, 2022): Palestinian Authority’s Power in West Bank Wanes
Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post (February 10, 2022): Palestinian terror groups say ‘no’ to Abbas loyalists’ appointments
Jehad Barakat, Al Jazeera (February 10, 2022): Abbas accused of power grab after Palestinian appointments
Aaron Boxerman, Times of Israel (February 9, 2022): As Abbas packs PLO with loyalists, succession struggle looms in Palestinian politics
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.
Reuters (February 15, 2022): Lebanon approves $18 million to hold May election
Kareem Chebayeb, Al Jazeera (February 13, 2022): Lebanon: Politicians mobilise in Sunni districts after Hariri
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.
Tarek Amara, Reuters (February 13, 2022): Tunisian president cements power over judiciary, opposition organises protest
Jennifer Holleis and Kersten Knipp, DW (February 8, 2022): Amid ‘power grab,’ Tunisia’s president risks losing public support
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.
AP (February 13, 2022): Turkish opposition leaders meet to counter Erdogan’s system: The leaders of six opposition parties in Turkey have met for the first time to strategize about the future of the country’s governing system
David Gardner, Financial Times (February 9, 2022): History may finally come knocking for Erdogan
Libya Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: Delayed from December 2021 – date TBD
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, but Libya’s parliament has said elections would not take place this year.
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
Mustafa Fetouri, Al-Monitor (February 13, 2022): What to expect now that Libya’s prime minister ousted: Libya’s controversial prime minister has been removed, but forcing his ouster could prove costly for the country.
Vivian Yee and Mohammd Abdusamee, New York Times (February 10, 2022): Libya Slides Deeper Into Chaos as Parliament Picks New Government
Al Jazeera (February 9, 2022): Libyan parliament set to name new PM amid signs of power struggle: Interim PM Dbeibah says he will not hand over power, a position that could lead to a flare-up of conflicts between rival factions.
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 likely be the kingmaker in the new government. More
Mustafa Saadoun, Al-Monitor (February 15, 2022): Iranian commander lobbies Iraq’s Muqtada al-Sadr for ‘inclusive’ approach to Shiite parties
Jason Beaubien, NPR (February 13, 2022): Iraq struggles to form government as country faces a series of challenges
Nadeen Ebrahim and Eoin McSweeney, CNN (February 13, 2022): Iraq faces deadlock after ‘West-friendly’ candidate suspended
Katherine Harvey, Lawfare (February 13, 2022): How Saudi Arabia Pushed Iraq Into the Arms of Iran
Farhad Alaaldin, Rudaw (February 9, 2022): The Sadrists are winning the strategy, may still lose tactically
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.
Lynne O’Donnell, Foreign Policy (February 17, 2022): Former Afghan VP: ‘We Will Resist Until Our Aim Is Achieved’: Amrullah Saleh, a leader of the exiled Afghan resistance, called for elections to give Afghans, not the Taliban, control of the future.
Syria Presidential Election: May 26, 2021
Syria held its presidential election for May 26, 2021. The election happened the context of Syria’s ongoing civil war and humanitarian crisis. Elections under the regime of Bashar al-Assad are widely considered to be a sham. More
Karam Shaar, Carnegie Endowment (February 15, 2022): Taming Syria’s Rogue Man
Debbie Mohnblatt, The Media Line (February 10, 2022): Syrian opposition groups meet in Qatar in search of unity
Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023
Libya Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: Overdue (delayed from December 24, 2021 – no date set)
Palestinian Authority Local Elections Phase 2: March 26, 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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