Middle East This Week: March 1, 2022

March 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.

Ruins of the ancient Oval Forum in Jerash, Jordan. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Diego Delso (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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

Tareq al Naimat, Carnegie Endowment (March 1, 2022): Constitutional Amendments in Jordan

Jordan Times (February 23, 2022): Crown Prince encourages youth participation in elections, merit-based voting

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. 

Yuval Abraham, +972 Magazine (February 24, 2022): ‘Hamas has hijacked Gaza. All of Palestine is hijacked’

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.

Sunniva Rose, The National UAE (February 23, 2022): Fears grow over Lebanon elections as politicians deny postponement

The New Arab (February 23, 2022): EU to send election observers to Lebanon

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

Al Jazeera (March 1, 2022): Libya parliament approves new government as crisis escalates: The vote may lead to the formation of two parallel administrations, derailing the UN-led reconciliation efforts.

Jalel Harchaoui, War on the Rocks (February 24, 2022): A Dysfunctional Peace: How Libya’s Fault Lines Were Redrawn

The New Arab (February 22, 2022): Libya interim PM promises legislative elections by end of June

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.

Christian Science Monitor (February 25, 2022): Freedom from fear flares again in Tunisia: The spirit of the Arab Spring lives on in public opposition to an elected leader’s grab for absolute power, causing him to acknowledge a need for judicial independence.

ANSA (February 22, 2022): Tunisia: Abir Moussi says she will run for president

Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Elections: October 1, 2022

Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region plans to hold parliamentary elections on October 1, 2022.

Dilwan Sirwan (February 24, 2022): Kurdistan Region to hold parliamentary elections on October 1: Presidency

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.

Nazlan Ertan, Al-Monitor (March 1, 2022): Turkey’s opposition unites in advance of 2023 elections: The jury’s out on whether a pledge by Turkey’s six opposition parties to bring back the parliamentary system is an agreement on the lowest common denominator or a historical pact that would unseat Erdogan.

Suzan Fraser, AP (February 28, 2022): Turkish opposition vows return to parliamentary democracy

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 

The New Arab (March 1, 2022): The Iraq Report: Judicial rulings dash dreams of Sadr, Kurds

Wladimir van Wilgenburg, Kurdistan24 (February 27, 2022): EU Election Observation mission concludes Iraqi elections were well-managed

UN News (February 24, 2022): ‘Political impasse’ hampering change and reform in Iraq

Paul Iddon, Forbes (February 24, 2022): Is Iraq Becoming A Launchpad For Militia Attacks On Regional Countries?

The New Arab (February 23, 2022): Iraq parliament announce list of 33 presidential candidates after political hold-up

Kuwait Parliamentary Elections: December 5, 2020

Kuwait held parliamentary elections on December 5, 2020. As could be expected, COVID-19 and the government’s response shaped public debate ahead of the elections. Meanwhile, populism is on the rise, exacerbated by the pandemic and falling oil prices. More

Isabel Debre and Malak Harb, AP (March 2, 2022): Kuwait’s pardoned dissidents return to a country in crisis

Voice of America (February 28, 2022): A Battle for Women’s Rights in Kuwait

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: October 1, 2022

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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