Critical of the distribution of minority seats

Five Christian parties say they will boycott Kurdistan elections

NEWSROOM – Five political parties representing the Chaldean, Assyrian, and Syriac communities announced their boycott of the upcoming Kurdistan Parliament election in protest against reducing Christian representation from five to three seats.

The Democratic Assyrian Movement, Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council, Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party, Bet-Nahrain National Union, and Assyrian National Party issued a joint statement on Thursday rejecting the decision to cut seats allocated to Christians.

The boycott by Christian parties follows the Iraqi Electoral Judicial Council’s announcement of the allocation of five parliamentary seats to Kurdistan minorities. The seats will be distributed based on election constituencies, with two seats in Erbil for Christians and Turkmen, two seats in Sulaymaniyah for Christians and Turkmen, and one seat in Duhok for an Armenian Christian. Thus, out of the total 100 seats in the Kurdistan Parliament, five will be reserved for minorities.

The Christian parties described the Federal Supreme Court (FSC)’s initial abolition of minority quota seats and the subsequent Electoral Judicial Council’s reinstatement of five seats as “unfair.” They noted that out of the original five reserved seats for Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syriac Christians before the FSC’s decision, three were removed, leaving only two. Additionally, they pointed out that Duhok province, which has the largest Christian population in the Kurdistan Region, was only assigned one seat for the Armenian Christians.

The five parties called for the Kurdistan Region to establish a single electoral constituency for Christian representation and to restore all five reserved seats for Christians. Ano Jawhar, the Kurdistan Regional Governemnt’s Minister of Communication and Transport, stated last December that “99 percent of Chaldean and Assyrian populations reside in Duhok and Erbil provinces.”

The basis for distributing minority seats in the Kurdish parliament remains unclear. It is uncertain whether the distribution is based on actual minority population numbers or the balance of power between the Kurdistan Democratic Party, ruling in Erbil and Duhok, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the main party in Sulaymaniyah.

The allocation of the Armenian seat in Duhok is the least contentious, as the majority of Armenians in Iraq reside in the province. Approximately 150 Armenian families, totaling over 1,000 individuals, now live in Duhok’s Zakho district alone. The majority of Assyrian Christians in Kurdistan also live in Duhok province but are not allocated any seats. Chaldean Christians in Kurdistan are mostly concentrated in Erbil’s Ainkawa.