Following petition by KRG PM

Federal court grants temporary injunction against Kurdistan election preperation

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi Federal Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an interim order in response to a complaint by Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, halting the implementation of seat distribution across the region’s four governorates.

The order affects Article 2, Section (ii) of the Registration and Approval System for the Kurdistan Regional Parliament Elections No. (7) of 2024. It specifies the distribution of 100 parliamentary seats across electoral districts in the Kurdistan Region as follows: Erbil governorate with 34 seats, Sulaymaniyah with 38 seats, Duhok with 25 seats and Halabja with 3 seats.

Barzani filed a complaint on Monday against the head of Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), accusing them of violating the Iraqi constitution. He argues that the seats should be distributed based on population, not the number of voters, as outlined in Article 49 of the 2005 Iraqi Constitution for the distribution of seats in the Federal Parliament.

In mid-March, the Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party announced its withdrawal from the elections scheduled for June 10, despite the date being set by Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, himself a senior KDP figure. The KDP stated it is ‘not boycotting’ the electoral process and will participate in parliamentary polls if conducted ‘freely and fairly’, alluding to possible external interference, specifically Iranian influence behind the Federal Supreme Court’s rulings.

The Kurdistan Region president was in Tehran this week, though he said in a press conference that the issue of elections was not broached in his meetings with senior Iranian leaders.

The verdict does not postpone the upcoming Kurdistan parliamentary elections scheduled for next month, but it does stop the IHEC’s ongoing preparations for it. In any case, the dim prospects of holding elections on time – especially without KDP participation – now appear comprehensively quashed. An anonymous source in the election commission told AFP that “the procedures are suspended as of today until the [federal court’s] verdict is issued.”

In response to the federal court’s decision today, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a historic rival of KDP and its coalition partner in the KRG, announced it has challenged the injunction with a counter-suit. The lawsuit, filed by Shalaw Kosrat Rasul of the PUK political bureau, contends that Barzani’s lawsuit violates Article (19 / 2) of the amended IHEC Law No. 31 of 2019, which states that decisions made by the Council of Commissioners on electoral matters are not subject to appeal outside the existing electoral judiciary.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party holds the largest share in the outgoing Kurdish parliament, occupying 45 seats, ahead of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan with 21 seats.

On February 21, the court declared several provisions of the Kurdistan Region’s Parliament Election Law unconstitutional, including the abolition of 11 quota seats, reducing the number of seats in the Kurdistan Regional Parliament from 111 to 100. It also mandated that Iraq’s IHEC oversee regional elections and ruled against the single-constituency system, dividing it into four constituencies.

The February verdict came after a complaint by Ziyad Jabar, a former PUK MP, and Amanj Najib Shamon, a former member of the Sulaymaniyah Provincial Council. The PUK accused the KDP of exploiting the system to elect aligned minority MPs, a claim the KDP denied but led to calls for electoral process reforms.