Middle East This Week: May 17, 2022

May 17, 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 Monastery of Mar Elisha in Lebanon’s Kadisha Valley. Lebanon held elections on May 15. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Vyacheslav Argenberg (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Middle East 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.

Tarek Amara, Reuters (May 13, 2022): Tunisian president hints he will not accept foreign observers in next elections

The New Arab (May 11, 2022): Tunisia opposition groups call for counter-protests against president Kais Saied

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.

Asli Aydıntaşbaş, European Council on Foreign Relations (May 16, 2022): Turkey, NATO, and the Ukraine war: Why Erdogan’s grievances are about more than Sweden and Finland

Paul Benjamin Osterlund, Al Jazeera (May 14, 2022): As Turkey’s economic crisis grows, politicians spar over refugees

Ruth Michaelson and Gökçe Saraçoğlu, The Guardian (May 12, 2022): Key Turkish opposition figure banned from politics after anti-Erdoğan tweet

Past Middle East Elections

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 15, 2022

Lebanon held parliamentary elections on May 15, 2022. Hezbollah and its allies lost their majority in parliament, and a number of independents won seats.

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 these elections could bring a hint of change.

Emma Graham, CNBC (May 16, 2022): Lebanon voters deal blow to Hezbollah allies in first election since economic meltdown

Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post (May 16, 2022): Lebanon elections: If Hezbollah feels it failed, will it react? – analysis

Diani Hodali, DW (May 13, 2022): Lebanon: Voters cling to hopes election can deliver change

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.

Sadr, who opposes both Iranian and American influence in Iraqi politics – was thought to be the likely be the kingmaker in the new government. But he is currently refusing to conduct talks with his rivals, resulting in deadlock. More

Ranj Alaaldin, Brookings Institution (May 17, 2022): Muqtada al-Sadr’s alliance: An opportunity for Iraq, the US, and the region

Tamer Badawi, Carnegie Endowment (May 17, 2022): The Growing Tribal Role in Iraq’s Post-election Shia Politics

Wladimir van Wilgenburg, Kurdistan24 (May 15, 2022): US takes no position on future Iraqi government: Outgoing US Ambassador 

Thanassis Cambanis, World Politics Review (May 10, 2022): Despite the Stalemate in Baghdad, Iraq’s Political Winds Are Shifting

Egypt Parliamentary Elections: October-December 2020

Egypt held elections for both houses of parliament this year. They were widely considered a sham by the opposition, civil society, and the public. More

Al-Monitor (May 10, 2022): Egyptian political opposition prepares for national dialogue with government

Middle East Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

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

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content, and their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here


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