Challenge over two Capitals votes
The Arab Political Parties go to Erbil and the Kurdish ones to Baghdad

Narin Rostam-KirkukNow The competition in the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary election is playing out more obviously in these two capitals. Some Arab political parties seriously look into the opportunities in Erbil, and some Kurdish parties are working hard to secure their seats in Baghdad. The campaigns have started for more than a week, and in Erbil, beside the Kurdish parties, tens of candidates from Abbadi and other Iraqi officials are competing. Himan Ramzi (Age 41), a Turkmen candidate in Erbil in the list of Nassr, told KirkukNow, "I am requested to participate as a candidate to end the tension between the two governments in Iraq." Nassr (Victory Alliance) led by HaidarAbbadi the current prime minister of Iraq, and other lists like, Watani Alliance, Tayari Watani Ashairi, and Coalition for Democracy and Justice are participating actively in Erbil and other provinces of The Kurdish Region. The candidate from Abbadi's list stated that "We are participating because we want to protect our neutral stance, and in order to understand the truth we have to depend on Baghdad which is the main source." The scale of participation and competition of the main political parties in the Kurdish Region is much larger compared to the last election especially after the changes that happened to the relations between Baghdad and Erbil after the referendum.

Kirkuk, 14th April 2018. Iraqi electoral campaigns. Photo: Karawn Salihi
The tensions between the two governments have reached its peak on October 16, 2017 when the central government's forces reentered Kirkuk and the other disputed areas, and Peshmerga retreated. Farhad Qadr, a PUK Iraqi parliament member told KikukNow, "Kurdistan is a part of Iraq, and it is not possible to have a voice in Kurdistan and not play a role in Iraq." Currently, the campaigns of some Kurdish parties promotes and supports the independence of Kurdistan and the referendum, while the Iraqi political parties put emphasizes on Iraq's unity. Mr. Qadr believes that “Kurds have to participate in Baghdad to assert its influence and role, and we have to be close to Baghdad to archive our goals." PUK and New Generation Movement, which is a new political party that is participating in the elections for the first time, are participating in Baghdad as two Kurdish parties. Baxtyar Said, a senior member of New Generation Movement and a candidate for Iraqi parliament said, "We believe in coexistence, and we want to request the Rights of the Kurdish people with reference to the Iraqi constitution." He also stated that "The rights of the Kurds can be achieved if Kurdistan has a powerful economy. When relations between The Kurdish Region and Iraq were better, people's livelihood was much better and economic opportunities were perfect." In all of Iraq, seven thousand candidates through 88 different registered parties and alliances are competing for 329 seats in the parliamentary election on the 12th of May.

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