Middle East This Week: March 8, 2022

March 8, 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 port of Tobruk, Libya. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Maher A. A. Abdussalam (public domain)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

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 (March 7, 2022): Meet the women fighting to change the face of Lebanese politics

Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter (March 3, 2022): Lebanon’s top Catholic leader: Pope’s visit will keep country’s ‘hope alive’

Najia Houssari, Arab News (March 3, 2022): Lebanon’s ruling parties announce candidates for parliamentary elections

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

Ahmed Elumami, Reuters (March 6, 2022): Tripoli tense amid standoff between Libya’s two rival governments

Al Jazeera (March 5, 2022): Libya: UN offers mediation after swearing in of new rival gov’t

Noha Elhennawy, AP (March 4, 2022): UN official urges Libyans to work towards elections

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.

Frida Ghitis, World Politics Review (March 3, 2022): Saied Levels Yet Another Blow at Tunisia’s Democracy

Gordon Gray, The Hill (March 2, 2022): The US can no longer ignore Tunisia’s fight for democracy

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.

Mustafa Sonmez, Al-Monitor (March 3, 2022): Turkey’s inflation hits 54.4% as Ukraine crisis threatens fresh blows

Carolina Drüten, Die Welt/Worldcrunch (March 3, 2022): Why Gen Z Is A Real Threat To Erdogan’s Grip On Power In Turkey

Pakistan General Elections: By October 12, 2023

Pakistan is due to hold its next general elections by October 12, 2023. The the last general elections, in 2018, former cricket star Imran Khan – seen as the military’s preferred candidate – became prime minister when his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won the most seats. The elections were  turbulent. Te main opposition parties are former prime minister Nawaz Sharif‘s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), founded by Zulfikar Bhutto and still led by members of the Bhutto family.

In October 2020, 11 of Pakistan’s opposition parties, including the PML and the PPP, united to form the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), ahead of indirect Senate elections in March. In those elections, PTI failed to win a majority, a major political hit for Imra nKhan.

Asif Shahzad, Reuters (March 8, 2022): Pakistani opposition moves no-confidence motion to seek PM Khan’s ouster

Umair Jamal, The Diplomat (March 8, 2022): Pakistan’s Prime Minister Takes on the West: Imran’s Khan’s tirade against the U.S. comes at a time when he is facing serious political challenges at home.

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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