June 10

Kurdistan Region sets date for parliamentary election

ERBIL — Nechirvan Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region, has officially announced June 10, 2024, as the date for the upcoming Kurdistan Parliament elections, marking a critical moment in the region’s political timeline.

The decree by the Kurdistan Region Presidency requires all relevant bodies to work in tandem with the federal electoral commission to ensure elections are carried out smoothly.

The presidential decree will be welcome news for the Kurdistan Region’s western partners who have consistently pleaded with Kurdish authorities to compromise and facilitate elections. The path to scheduling these elections has been fraught with complications, primarily due to political and legal disputes over the election law, leading to multiple postponements from the initially planned date in October 2022.

The U.S. Consulate General in Erbil says it “welcomes [President] Nechirvan Barzani’s announcement of June 10, 2024, Iraqi Kurdistan parliament elections for the. We support free and fair elections, which are vital for a healthy democracy and the future of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.”

“We very much welcome the announcement of the election date on June 10th by [President Nechirvan Barzani],” tweeted the Dutch consulate in Erbil. “Free and fair elections are as oxygen to a fire for any democracy.”

Canadian Ambassador to Iraq Kathy Bunka said on X (formerly Twitter), “Canada encourages free and fair elections.”

The Italian consulate also chimed in, welcoming “the decision of President Nechrivan Barzani to call for regional elections to be held on June 10 and encourages all parties to accomplish with a smooth, free and fair process.”

The situation was exacerbated by the expiration of the legal term of the Kurdistan Region’s own local electoral and referendum commission in 2019, and the end of the Kurdistan Parliament’s term in November 2022, creating significant obstacles to the electoral process.

A pivotal development occurred in May 2023 when Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court declared the Kurdistan parliament’s decision to extend its term by a year unconstitutional, thereby nullifying all decisions made by the parliament subsequent to this extension. This ruling was a direct consequence of disputes between the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan over key issues like electoral reform and revenue sharing. The lack of an active parliament meant the Kurdistan Region was unable to legislate for elections nor approve new electoral commissioners for the new term.

Further complicating the electoral landscape, the court’s decision on the electoral system’s restructuring—which included the supervision of the Kurdistan parliamentary elections by Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission, the abolition of quota seats, and the transition from a single constituency to multiple constituencies—was persistently delayed. Initially taken up by the court in mid-2023, this ruling was repeatedly postponed at the last minute, not being finalized until February 2024.

Moreover, the court’s February 2024 ruling to eliminate the 11 reserved minority seats in the 111-seat parliament, thereby reducing it to 100 seats without quotas, ignited debates concerning the potential impact on minority representation within the Kurdistan Parliament.

This is not the first decree issued by President Barzani on holding the elections since the first extension. Though it is expected that this time the remaining political and judicial hurdles have been cleared.

As the Kurdistan Region prepares for the long-delayed parliamentary elections, with approximately 3.7 million individuals eligible to vote—though only about 2.8 million have updated their biometric cards—this electoral process will unfold over the next 99 days against a backdrop of significant legal and political challenges.

Article edited to add comments from diplomats and consulates

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