Middle East This Week: June 21, 2022

June 21, 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 sea wall of Acre, Israel. Israel holds yet another round of snap elections on November 1, 2022. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Oren Rozen (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.

Africanews (June 20, 2022): Tunisian protest constitutional reforms pushed by President Kais Saied

AFP (June 16, 2022): Tunisia grinds to a halt as unions challenge president

Raed Ben Maaquia, African Arguments (June 16, 2022): Is Tunisia’s democracy slipping away?

Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government Elections: September 30, 2022 (due)

Iraq’s Kurdistan region is due to hold elections by the end of September 2022. While the region is part of Iraq, it has a high degree of autonomy. It is able to sign its own oil export agreements with international companies, although Baghdad has tried to change this. There have been disputes between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi federal government over territory, particularly the city of Kirkuk, which is rich in oil.

Rowena Edwards, Reuters (June 17, 2022): Iraq’s Kurdistan works to establish two oil firms as Erbil-Baghdad tensions rise

Israel Snap Parliamentary Elections, Take 5: November 1, 2022

Israel will hold snap elections on November 1, 2022, the fifth elections in three years, following the collapse of a broad coalition led by conservative Naftali Bennett and centrist Yair Lapid.

Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post (June 21, 2022): What do Israeli elections mean for clandestine war vs Iran? – analysis

Josef Federman, AP (June 21, 2022): Israel to dissolve parliament, call 5th election in 3 years

Shira Rubin, Washington Post (June 21, 2022): Netanyahu prepares for a comeback in Israel’s next elections

Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post (June 20, 2022): Biden will visit Israel despite Knesset disbanding, elections: Biden is expected to visit Israel on July 13-14. He will spend the night in Jerusalem and will hold talks with the incoming prime minister Yair Lapid

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.

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 (June 20, 2022): UN says Libya rival factions fail to reach deal in election talks

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.

While Turkey remains a member of NATO, it has in recent years moved toward Russia and other authoritarian powers on the geopolitical stage.

Balkan Insight (June 20, 2022): Facing Elections, Turkey and Greece Play with Fire in the Aegean

Palestinian Authority General Elections: Long Overdue

The Palestinian Authority is long overdue to hold general elections. President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in year 17 of a four-year term. Similarly, the last Legislative Council elections took place in 2006. However, local elections did take place in 2021 and 2022.

Ksenia Svetlova, The Media Line (June 17, 2022): On 15th Anniversary of Palestinian Divide, Politicians in Ramallah Mull Elections, Succession Struggle

Past 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.

Andrea Lopez-Tomas, Al-Monitor (June 19, 2022): Lebanon elects record number of women to parliament

Khalil Issa, The New Arab (June 17, 2022): Lebanon elections: The enemy of the people remains

Nicholas Bladford, Atlantic Council (June 16, 2022): Lebanon-Israel maritime border dispute picks up again

AJ Naddaff, Foreign Policy (June 16, 2022): Syrian Refugees Find Little Hope in Lebanon’s Election: Lebanon’s large refugee population has long given up on their futures in the country.

Ruters (June 14, 2022): Lebanon Ready to Drop Claim for Disputed Gas Field Off Israeli Coast, Officials Say

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

Douglas A. Ollivant, War on the Rocks (June 20, 2022): A post-Sadr Iraq?

Algeria Early Local Elections: November 27, 2021

Algeria held early local elections on November 27, 2021.

These follow the snap legislative elections held on June 12, 2021, following more than two years of protests by the Hirak movement. However, the government’s election plan did not actually satisfied the Hirak, who boycotted the elections and continue to protest. The absence of the Hirak, who are mostly secular, from the elections has paved the way for Islamist parties to become the main opposition. Ultimately, the FLN, the country’s long-dominant nationalist secular party, won both the legislative and the local elections.

Elizia Volkmann, Al-Monitor (June 21, 2022): Algerian government shuts down leading pro-reform group

The New Arab (June 14, 2022): Head of major Algeria media group Anis Rahmani sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption

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: September 30, 2022 (due – delays possible)

Israel Snap Parliamentary Elections: November 1, 2022

Bahrain Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

Kuwait Snap Parliamentary Elections: Date TBD

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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