'Awaiting the response from Kurdistan's presidency

Iraq’s electoral commission proposes September date for Kurdistan parliamentary elections

NEWSROOM — The Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq (IHEC) has proposed holding the Kurdistan parliamentary elections at the beginning of September. Imad Jamil, head of the commission’s media team, told 964media that a written proposal has been sent to the Kurdistan Region Presidency, recommending September 5 as the election date. “We are awaiting the response from the presidency of the Kurdistan Region regarding the proposed date,” Jamil said.

The upcoming date marks the fourth attempt to set a date for the sixth round of Kurdistan elections. Initially scheduled for October 2022, the elections were postponed due to political disagreements. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two ruling Kurdish parties, opposed holding elections at that time, citing objections to the distribution of minority seats and volatile internal conditions within the party following a violent power struggle. The subsequent date of February 2024 also fell through due to pending lawsuits in the Federal Supreme Court and ongoing political disputes.

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani later set June 10, 2024, as the new date, but this too was postponed due to a lack of consensus among political parties and the recommencement of biometric registration by the electoral commission. In mid-May, IHEC announced it had halted preparations for the June elections, deeming it impossible to hold them on that date.

On May 22, Iraq’s parliament extended IHEC’s term for six months, allowing the commission to plan and organize the upcoming parliamentary elections within this timeframe. IHEC’s current term, initially set to expire on July 7, 2024, will now continue until January 6, 2025.

Hassan Hadi, a member of IHEC’s communications team, announced on Sunday that “All preparations for the elections have been completed, and only the printing of the ballot papers remains once a new date is set.”

On February 21, Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court issued landmark rulings, declaring several provisions of the Kurdistan Region’s Parliament Election Law unconstitutional. The court found parts of the law mandating 111 seats with 11 reserved for minorities “violated” the constitution.

The revised law stipulates 100 parliamentarians with no quota seats. The court also invalidated the Kurdistan Independent Electoral Commission, mandating the federal IHEC oversee regional elections. Additionally, it ruled against the single-constituency system outlined in Article 9 of Kurdistan’s election law, demanding a minimum of four constituencies.

The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit partly filed by PUK member Ziad Jabbar. The original filing sought reform of the 11 minority quota seats allocated based on ethnicity. The PUK accused the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of exploiting the system to elect aligned minority MPs. The KDP denied the allegations but was reluctant to grant changes to the electoral process. Following the verdict, the KDP, the dominant party in the Kurdistan government, announced it would not participate in the long-delayed upcoming Kurdistan parliamentary elections, scheduled for June 10.

On May 21, the Iraqi Electoral Judiciary Council restored five quota parliamentary seats to the minorities of the Kurdistan Region. The Iraqi electoral commission stated it has been assigned to allocate five parliamentary seats to Kurdistan minorities. The seats will be distributed based on election constituencies, with two seats each for Erbil and Sulaymaniyah provinces, and one seat for Duhok.

The KDP has also criticized the exclusion of nearly 400,000 Kurdistan Region voters—20% of those biometrically registered—due to unscanned fingerprints. It complained about the “unjust” allocation of seats for Halabja, with only three seats. Last week, it was reported that the KDP had demanded a higher number of seats for the Kurdistan’s smallest and newest province.

The KDP’s concerns extend to the Federal Supreme Court’s authority over electoral disputes in the Kurdistan Region, viewing the transfer of this jurisdiction to the Federal Judicial Council as a “dangerous encroachment” on the region’s judicial autonomy. The party holds the largest share in the outgoing Kurdish parliament, occupying 45 seats, ahead of the PUK with 21 seats.

The Iraqi Federal Supreme Court on May 7 issued an interim order in response to a complaint by Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), temporarily halting the implementation of seat distribution across the region’s four provinces. 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 province with 34 seats, Sulaymaniyah with 38 seats, Duhok with 25 seats, and Halabja with 3 seats.

Following the Electoral Judiciary Council decision, the Federal Supreme Court issued a verdict rejecting the lawsuit filed by the KRG Prime Minister Barzani. The court also annulled the injunction regarding the unconstitutionality of Article 2 of the candidate registration system, “due to a decision issued by the Judiciary Council on the same matter,” a statement from the court confirmed.

However, the latest verdict did not satisfy all the minority parties, as 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 Christian parties described the Federal Supreme Court’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.

Confusion reigns over Kurdistan election delay as commission officials claim business as usual

Confusion reigns over Kurdistan election delay as commission officials claim business as usual

Iraqi electoral judicial council restores five parliamentary minority seats

Iraqi electoral judicial council restores five parliamentary minority seats