Iraqi Kurds Vote in Regional Elections
Via the AFP: Iraq’s Kurds vote amid rows, regional tensions
Iraq’s Kurds voted Saturday in their first election in four years as their autonomous region grapples with disputes with Baghdad while fellow Kurds fight bloody battles in neighbouring Syria.The election for the region’s parliament comes as the turmoil roiling the Middle East has raised renewed questions about the political future of the Kurdish nation as a whole.The Kurds are spread across a number of neighbouring states, where they have long faced hostile governments but have found increasing space to pursue their aspirations to run their own affairs.About 2.8 million Kurds are eligible to vote across the three-province region of northern Iraq, and queues had already formed when polls opened.
The regional parliament has 111 seats.
Writing at Rudaw, political scientist David Romano observes:
The upcoming provincial election may be the best one Iraqi Kurdistan has ever had. I do not say this because there were some complaints of electoral irregularities and even fraud in past elections. The region’s previous elections were good on the whole, these problems notwithstanding.
This month’s election in Iraqi Kurdistan promises to be the best one yet because of the debates involved and the number of viable parties competing. In the recent past, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) ran on the same electoral ticket. While this might have been good for stability, presenting a united Kurdish front in Baghdad and the very necessary process of reuniting the Erbil and Sulaimani Kurdistan Regional Governments, it was bad for democracy in South Kurdistan.
Voters need real choices, and politicians need real competition, for democracy to produce better governance. The prospects for a good governance also increase if the issues under debate revolve around domestic issues rather than outside threats.
In another positive development, the core issues in this election seem to be more about local matters than Kurdish nationalist causes.