Everyone follows their heart
Parties’ electoral lists overtake ethnic interests

Kirkuk_KirkukNow

The three main components in Kirkuk have been unable to form a unified coalition for their constituents to run for the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections due to their internal party struggles. Despite the danger of losing their ballots in their constituencies, the Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen enter the election race with more than 20 lists and political alliances.

Arabs Most Dispersed

The Arab component is said to be the most dispersed component in Kirkuk province entering the parliamentary elections in Iraq as they compete with nine lists and one single alliance for the upcoming elections. The "Arab Alliance in Kirkuk" is one of the most prominent alliances of the Arab component in the province; Rakan Saeed Al-Jubouri, the acting governor of Kirkuk and MP Mohammad Al-Tamimi, a former minister of education, an incumbent member of the Iraqi council of representatives and the chairman of the finance committee in the parliament are among the most prominent figures of the alliance.

"The List of Solidarity" headed by Anwar Al-'Asi, the chief leader of the Al-Obeidy  tribe;  the list of "The Conquest - Al Fatih" headed by Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the Badr Organization and one of the leaders in the People Mobilizing Forces (PMF), as well as  the alliance  of "Al-Nasr – The Victory" led by Haider AL-Ebadi, the Iraqi prime minister along with the (Wisdom –Al-Hikma) movement  beside a number of other Arab lists and alliances are seeking to secure the Arab votes.

"Ten Arab political parties, including the Iraqi National Congress, have united in one list and formed the Arab coalition in Kirkuk choosing Mr.Rakan Al-Jubouri , the Acting Governor of Kirkuk as the president of this alliance" said Asil Al-Yasiri, Head of the Iraqi National Congress branch in Kirkuk.

The Arab lists and coalitions are competing for votes in Kirkuk, especially the Al-Nasr, Al-Fatih and Al-Hikma lists. This comes at a time when the Arab component in the 2014 elections in Iraq was unable to preserve the votes of their voters resulting in wining only two of the 12 seats in Kirkuk for the Iraqi Council of Representatives.

Kurds enter the race with an alliance and five lists

The Kurdish parties have failed, after several meetings, to gather under one umbrella and form a unified alliance in Kirkuk and other disputed territories. As a result, their participation will be through an alliance of three parties and five other lists.

"The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has worked very hard for the participation of all the Kurdish parties in a unified list in the Iraqi parliamentary elections, but all the efforts had been in vain," said Khasrow Goran, head of Kurdistan Democratic Party's Election Board, in a press statement. That is why Kurdistan Democratic Party withdrew from taking part in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Kirkuk, April elections 2014, two women voting. Photo by: Metrographey Agency.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Nishtiman - Homeland's Alliance, the Kurdistan Islamic Union and the New Generation are the most prominent Kurdish lists participating in the elections in Kirkuk, beside the Kurdistan Socialist Party and the Kurdistan Communist Party.

Although the Kurdish political parties in Kirkuk did not reach an agreement to participate in a unified list in the upcoming elections, but the Change Movement, Alliance for Democracy and Justice and the Kurdistan Islamic Group managed to enter into an alliance under the name of (Nishtiman) the Kurdish word for homeland to enter the elections in the disputed areas.

The Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq (IHEC) announced on February 15th, 2018 the end of the period given to accept the candidates' lists for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Iraq. Meanwhile, it had previously announced the end of the registration period for the electoral alliances on January 11th 2018 .

"The Kurdistan Democratic Party called on the political parties to participate with a single list, but all the efforts had been in vain.”

The deputy head of the Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq, Rizgar Haji Hama told (Kirkuk Now) that Kurdish parties were unable to meet the indicated deadline for the registration of alliances, so in order to form a unified alliance, they had to enter into the coalition already formed by the Change Movement, the Alliance for Democracy and Justice and the Kurdistan Islamic Group without changing its name, but that attempt was also fruitless.

Kurdish political parties were the biggest beneficiaries in the previous parliamentary election in Kirkuk, after they managed to secure eight seats in the province of Kirkuk, but the events of October 16th 2018, which led to the withdrawal of the Kurdistan Regional Government's security forces, are expected to have an impact on the number of the votes which the ruling Party (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) will get since it has been accused of "handing over" Kirkuk to the Iraqi forces.

Turkmen; an alliance and other candidates divided in other lists

The Turkmen component in Kirkuk if compared to Arabs and Kurds of the province are luckier because of having a strong alliance to represent them. However, there are fears of losing their votes, especially after a number of high profile Turkmen figures became candidates in the Al-Nasr and Al-Fatih alliances as well as the al-Hikma movement.

Kirkuk 10/3/2018 press conference for the Iraqi Turkmen Front's head and his deputy Photo by: Ibrahim Al-Obeidy

The list of the Iraqi Turkmen Front headed by Arshad Salhi and the Al-Fatih list headed by Mohammad Mahdi al-Bayati, the former Minister of Human Rights and Head of Badr Organization in northern Iraq, are the largest lists of Turkmen in Iraq. At the same time, a number of Turkmen parties and candidates have been nominated in other lists and alliances.

Çetin Bayrakdar a Turkmen political activist told (KirkukNow) about this issue of having multiple lists and candidates for the Turkmen and saying that " except for the two prominent Turkmen Lists , other candidates and parties are divided across the different Iraqi lists namely Turhan Mufti , the Turkmen politician who is a candidate for the Al-Nasr list; meanwhile, Ammar Kahiya head of the Turkmen Giving –Ata'party in Kirkuk with Falih Fayadh, the Iraqi national security advisor will also separately take part in the elections as well as Zhala Nafitchy , one of the female Turkmen politicians is a candidate on Haider AL-Ebadi's Al-Nasr list.

"If we don't win in the election, then Turkmen won’t have representatives in the Parliament"

The head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, Arshad Al-Salhi, said he has expressed his concerns about the division of Turkmen in the upcoming elections and stressed the importance of the internal Turkmen unity  and avoiding such division of the Turkmen candidates in Kirkuk and Tuzkurmatu because that will prevent them from achieving their goals.

"The larger lists such as the National Alliance (Shia) which enters the elections with four lists or even five are different because they constitute the majority in southern Iraq; however, this is a problem in the Turkmen areas, since if our candidates who are divided across those lists won’t win, the Turkmen won’t have representatives in the parliament," Al-Salhi said in a press conference on February 17th 2018 in Kirkuk attended by KirkukNow's correspondent.

Al-Salihi said he called upon the Turkmen candidates for unity, stressing that “I call on our brothers and our people in the Turkmen fractions not to disagree in order to get our parliamentarians to the house of representatives."

More than 200 lists and political alliances will compete for securing  329 seats in the Iraqi parliamentary elections scheduled for May 12th ,2018 distributed on all provinces  with 24 million people have the right to vote the process.

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