Middle East This Week: February 22, 2022

February 22, 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 seafront in Benghazi, Libya. Libya’s delayed elections could take place by June 2022 – or could see additional delays. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Maher A. A. Abdussalam (public domain)

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

Daoud Kuttab, Arab News (February 20, 2022): Islamists receive big blow in Jordan’s Engineers Association elections

Hanna Davis, Al Jazeera (February 18, 2022): ‘Elephant in the room’: Jordanian women and equal rights – Recognition of ‘Jordanian women’ in the kingdom’s constitution ignited a brawl in parliament and debate over their status under the law.

William Christou, The New Arab (February 17, 2022): Jordanian activists go on hunger strike to protest their arrest

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

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.

Nicolas Noe, Carnegie Endowment (February 22, 2022): Lebanon’s Looming Election Disaster

Dario Sabaghi, The New Arab (February 16, 2022): Who will fill Saad Hariri’s void in Lebanon?

Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government Elections: September 30, 2022 (due)

Rudaw (February 15, 2022): Kurdistan Region committed to holding parliamentary vote on time

Libya Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: Delayed from December 2021 – date TBD (possibly 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. Following the election delay, the political crisis deepened. The UN has urged elections by June 2022. Libya’s parliament had said elections would not take place this year, but the new interim prime minister, Abdelhamid Dbeibah, later said that the elections would happen by June.

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

Cayley Clifford, Daily Maverick (February 22, 2022): Russia hedging all bets amid uncertainty and turmoil in Libya after elections postponed

AFP (February 22, 2022): Libya to hold legislative elections by end of June

Africanews with AP (February 22, 2022): Libya’s embattled PM says replacing him could trigger war

Omar Hammady, Foreign Policy (February 18, 2022): What Went Wrong With Libya’s Failed Elections: This was the predictable outcome of a deeply flawed process.

Karim Mezran, Atlantic Council (February 17, 2022): Will Libya have two prime ministers again?

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 

Julian Bechocha, Rudaw (February 22, 2022): Top Iraqi court revokes Yazidi parliamentary representation

Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor (February 16, 2022): Iraqi court’s ruling on KRG gas puts Turkey on the spot

Khalid Al Ansary and Verity Ratcliffe, Bloomberg (February 15, 2022): Iraq’s Top Court Says Kurdistan Shouldn’t Sell Oil Alone

Algeria Early Local Elections: November 27, 2021

Algeria held early local elections on November 27, 2021.

These follow the snap legislative elections held on June 12, 2021, following more than two years of protests by the Hirak movement. However, the government’s election plan did not actually satisfied the Hirak, who boycotted the elections and continue to protest. The absence of the Hirak, who are mostly secular, from the elections has paved the way for Islamist parties to become the main opposition. Ultimately, the FLN, the country’s long-dominant nationalist secular party, won both the legislative and the local elections.

Zine Labidine Ghebouli, Middle East Institute (February 22, 2022): Algeria’s opposition after the Hirak: Limitations and divisions

Human Rights Watch (February 21, 2022): Algeria: 3 Years On, Repression on Protest Tightens

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Palestinian Authority Local Elections Phase 2: March 26, 2022

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 15, 2022

Libya Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: Overdue (delayed from December 24, 2021 – no date set but some have proposed to hold the elections by June 2022)

Tunisia Constitutional Referendum: July 25, 2022

Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Parliamentary Elections: September 30, 2022 (due)

Bahrain Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

Tunisia Early Legislative Elections: December 17, 2022

Turkey Presidential and Legislative Elections: By June 18, 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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