June 14, 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.
A historic house in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Zaid T. Abduljabbar (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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.
Reuters (June 13, 2022): Tunisian judge quits electoral commission over president’s sackings of judges
Sami Hamdi, Al Jazeera (June 10, 2022): Tunisia’s president, opposition battle over who will fold first
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 in 2022.
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
U.S. Institute of Peace (June 14, 2022): What’s Next for Libya’s Protracted Conflict?
Samy Magdy, AP (June 12, 2022): UN-brokered talks on Libya elections resume in Cairo
Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Elections: October 1, 2022 (delayed)
Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region plans to hold parliamentary elections on October 1, 2022.
Dana Taib Menmy, The New Arab (June 12, 2022): Iraqi Kurdistan parliamentary elections to be postponed, official says
Bahrain Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)
Bahrain is due to hold parliamentary elections in November 2022. Since a 2011 uprising, Bahrain has become increasingly authoritarian and repressive, especially vis a vis the Shi’ite opposition (Bahrain is more than half Shi’hite but ruled by a Sunni royal family). The opposition was barred from participating in the last elections in 2018. Moreover, the monarch has executive power as well as the power to appoint the prime minister and cabinet. Therefore, parliament is generally not very powerful.
Bahrain is an important security partner for the United States. It is designated a Major Non-NATO Ally and hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (CENTCOM).
Hudhaifa Ebrahim, The Media Line (June 15, 2022): Bahrain’s biggest-ever cabinet reshuffle sees record 4 female ministers: Young blood charged with diversifying kingdom’s income sources, pursuing post-COVID economic recovery.
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.
Eric Edelman, The Dispatch (June 13, 2022): What Erdoğan Has Wrought?
Bloomberg (June 10, 2022): Turkey Opposition Frets Over Challenger to Erdogan in Vote
AP (June 9, 2022): Turkish President Erdogan says he will run for re-election next year
Sibel Hurtas, Al-Monitor (June 8, 2022): Eroding judicial independence threatens Turkish elections
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.
Nada Homsi, The National UAE (June 13, 2022): Lebanon’s Sunni leadership void could derail naming of prime minister
Omar Boutine, Global Voices (June 12, 2022): The fall of the House of Arslan: How a Lebanese political newcomer ousted a dynasty
Dr. Elie Abouaoun, U.S. Institute of Peace (June 8, 2022): Lebanon’s Election Offers Lessons for Now and the Future
Barak Ravid, Axios (June 8, 2022): U.S. deeply concerned as Israel-Lebanon maritime dispute intensifies
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
Shawn Yuan, Al-Jazeera (June 15, 2022): Sadrists quit Iraq’s parliament, but al-Sadr isn’t going away: The Sadrist bloc’s resignation from parliament throws up a number of scenarios, including new elections in Iraq
Abbas Kadhim, Atlantic Council (June 14, 2022): Muqtada al-Sadr just issued a mass resignation decree. Where does Iraq go from here?
Thanassis Cambanis, World Politics Review (June 14, 2022): Sadr Could Break Iraq’s Political System—for Better and Worse
Yesar Al-Maleki, Middle East Institute (June 14, 2022): Iraq once again leaps into the void, but not before political elites secure funding
Qassim Abdul-Zahra, AP (June 13, 2022): Iraqi leaders vow to move ahead after dozens quit parliament
Qassim Abdul-zahra and Samya Kullab, AP (June 9, 2022): No way out as Iraq’s dangerous post-election impasse deepens
Iran Presidential and Local Elections: June 18, 2021
Iran held a presidential election on June 18, 2021, with concurrent local elections. While Iran is far from a free country, and the elections are largely rigged, voters have in the past had a degree of choice. However, this year’s election was even more rigged than usual. The Guardian Council (which must approve all candidacies) allowed seven candidates on the ballot and mostly excluded moderates and establishment figures, among them a number of prominent names. This seemed to be calculated to clear the way for hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi to win, and he did in fact win.
Raisi’s win complicates things for the Biden administration, which is seeking to restore the nuclear deal that the Trump administration left. More
AFP (June 10, 2022): Iran’s nuclear tactics leaves Biden with tough choices
Jonathan Harounoff, Haaretz (June 9, 2022): Crazy Inflation, Stalled Diplomacy: Iran Marks One Year of President Raisi: Experts say President Ebrahim Raisi has fallen short of economic promises since replacing Hassan Rohani, but a last-minute breakthrough in nuclear talks could yet mark a turning point
Danielle Pletka, The Dispatch (June 9, 2022): Bad News for Biden: Congress Cooling on Idea of an Iran Deal: The Senate passed a non-binding resolution opposing sanctions relief for the IRGC and insisting that any deal address state-sponsored terrorism
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 and early elections are possible.
Local elections in Jerusalem are due on October 31, 2023 More
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post (June 14, 2022): Elections soon? A bill to dissolve the Knesset to be voted on next week: If a new Likud bill passes an election would be held in Israel on October 25
Times of Israel (June 14, 2022): Poll shows a majority of Israeli public wants an end to Bennett government
Amichai Stein, Atlantic Council (June 9, 2022): Israel, guess who’s back? Netanyahu is back again
Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor (June 9, 2022): Israel’s Lapid courts Arab parties with eye toward early elections
Afghanistan Presidential Election: September 28, 2019
Afghanistan held its last presidential election on September 28, 2019. Ashraf Ghani ultimately won re-election in a very tense vote and a tense four months in between the election and the final declaration of results, defeating his main rival, Abdullah Abdullan. The election took place amid attacks by the Taliban, which had ordered Afghans not to vote.
Following the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of much of the country, the future of Afghan politics remains uncertain.
Akmal Dawi, Voice of America (June 8, 2022): Taliban Welcome, Others Criticize Return of Former Afghan Officials
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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