Middle East This Week: June 7, 2022

June 7, 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.

Jaffa Road, one of the oldest and longest roads in Jerusalem. Israel could have yet another round of snap elections if political turmoil continues. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Ranbar (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Middle East Elections

Tunisia Constitutional Referendum: July 25, 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.

Trevor Filseth, The National Interest (June 7, 2022): Arab Winter? Proposed Tunisian Constitution Would Cripple Islamist Opposition

Al Jazeera (June 4, 2022): Skirmishes as police block Tunisia protests against July referendum

Simon Speakman Cordall, Foreign Policy (June 3, 2022): Tunisia’s Powerful Labor Union Is Thwarting President Saied’s Ambitions: The Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) is the one body with enough power to derail Saied’s plans

Jennifer Holleis, DW (June 3, 2022): Tunisia: President Kais Saied’s power grab undermines democracy

Libya Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: Delayed from December 2021 – date TBD (possibly by the end of 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, and there are currently two rival governments.

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

Sami Magdy, AP (June 2, 2022): Divided again, Libya slides back toward violence, chaos: Two separate governments are once again vying for power in Libya

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.

Borzou Daragahi, The Independent (June 5, 2022): The world is unprepared for Turkey’s potentially cataclysmic 2023 elections

World Politics Review (June 3, 2022): Turkey’s Contentious Foreign Policy and Domestic Politics

Mohammed Abdelbary, CNN (June 3, 2022): Why Turkey changed its name: populism, polls and a bird

Adam Taylor, Washington Post (June 2, 2022): Turkey today, Türkiye tomorrow: U.N. okays country’s request for change

Andrew Wilks, Al-Monitor (June 2, 2022): Cases against opposition politicians mount ahead of Turkish elections

Arzu Geybullayeva, Global Voices (June 2, 2022): Journalists in Turkey could face three years in prison for disseminating ‘false information’ online

Hurriyet Daily News (June 1, 2022): Insult trial against Istanbul mayor postponed to September

Past Middle East Elections

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections: May 15, 2022

Lebanon held parliamentary elections for 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.

Dana Hourany, Al-Monitor (June 5, 2022): Lebanon’s opposition lawmakers start work in chaotic first session

Maya Gebeily, Reuters (June 1, 2022): ‘Major confrontation’ with Hezbollah ahead, says Lebanon Christian politician

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

Elise Ann Allen, Crux (June 7, 2022): Iraqi patriarch calls for religious pluralism amid political deadlock

Rudaw (June 5, 2022): President Barzani meets independents to discuss Iraqi political blockage

Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz (June 2, 2022): Iraq Is Fed Up With Relying on Iran, but Has No Alternative for Now

Julian Bechocha, Rudaw (June 1, 2022): Little progress made in Iraqi government formation talks: MP

Israel Parliamentary Elections, Take 4: March 23, 2021

On March 23, 2021, Israel held its fourth general election in two years after the collapse of the unity government of Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz. Neither Netanyahu’s allies nor his opponents won a majority. Netanyahu, whose conservative Likud party won the most seats, had the first chance to form a coalition, but he failed. Subsequently, Yair Lapid from the centrist Yesh Atid formed a broad coalition with conservative Naftali Bennett, with Bennett as prime minister for a time before rotating the position to Lapid. A number of other parties are in the coalition, which passed a Knesset vote on June 14, thus ending Netanyahu’s 12 years in office. However, the coalition remains tenuous.

Local elections in Jerusalem are due on October 31, 2023 More

Josef Federman, AP (June 6, 2022): Israeli coalition suffers loss and faces uncertain prospects

Jerusalem Post (June 3, 2022): Israel will declare elections by the end of the year – fmr. minister

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

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