Barzani's party looking for coalition partners

But Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has fallen short of the 62-seat majority needed to form a government. Many are advocating for a broad-based national unity government.

Barzani's party looking for coalition partners

The ruling party of Iraqi Kurdistan's President Massoud Barzani has come first in the region's parliamentary elections, according to official results of 95 percent of the votes released by the electoral body one week after the elections were held on Sept. 21. But Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has fallen short of the 62-seat majority needed to form a government. The party won 719,004 votes, followed by the Gorran Movement with 446,095 votes. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, came third with around 324,000 votes.

Gorran is led by the PUK's former number two, Noshirwan Mustafa, who broke away from Talabani in 2006. Gorran's rising fortunes have relegated the once highly popular PUK to the third slot, dealing a significant blow to the party's prestige and political weight.

The indecisive elections mean the major vote-winners will have to maneuver to put together a governing coalition. The KDP is expected to be asked to form the next Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) cabinet and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani is expected to retain his office.

Sources speaking to Today's Zaman on the condition of anonymity say the KDP will form a coalition government with the PUK, and the Christian and Turkmen deputies. The latter two hold 11 seats in parliament. The KDP has decided not to partner with Gorran, despite Gorran being the second-largest party in parliament. Several of the sources who spoke with Today's Zaman also note that Gorran is not interested in joining the KDP in a coalition government.

Many are advocating for a broad-based national unity government.

“It is likely that a broad-based government will be formed in Kurdistan so that all parties that won votes can take part in the government and agree on one platform,” Farid Assasard, a PUK official said.

However, another senior PUK official, Mala Bakhtiyar, said that Gorran had approached his party to form a governing coalition, apparently without the KDP's participation. Although this could happen in theory, in practice it is highly unlikely.

Many observers think it unlikely that the next coalition would not include both the KDP and PUK, given their de facto control over the Kurdish region.

Since the end of the Kurdish civil war in 1997, the KDP and the PUK have each established spheres of influence in Iraqi Kurdistan, with local administration in the vast Sulaimani province held by the PUK and the KDP controlling Arbil and Duhok provinces.

KDP officials have already signaled their willingness to retain the PUK as a partner in the next government. Without one of the two parties, the future government would be incapable of governing the entire Kurdish region and instability would prevail. Given the remarkable inroads that the Kurds have made in the past decades both politically and economically, the two parties are unlikely to take steps that would jeopardize those gains.

The results of the elections have sparked an uproar among opposition parties who say the votes have been manipulated by the ruling parties and the electoral commission.

Gorran and two Islamist opposition parties assembled a meeting yesterday, saying the results announced by the electoral commission “are not up to our expectations and do not reflect our true weight.”

Opposition groups say results recorded after the initial vote count at various polling stations were different from the results announced by the electoral commission on Saturday.

Opposition groups have warned they will take a “serious stance” if the official results are not revised.

On Sunday, one day after the announcement of the results by the Iraqi electoral commission, the headquarters of security forces in Arbil came under a series of attacks by suicide bombers. At least two car bombs blew up in front of the security compound and six assailants who tried to break into the compound were gunned down by guards.

A branch of al-Qaeda in Syria has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attacks in what many in Arbil saw as a repercussion of the conflict in neighboring Syria.

Sherko Habeb, a Kurdish analyst, told Today's Zaman that the attack didn't have anything to do with the KRG elections.

“We know there are different groups that don't want us to live together in peace,” he said. “They tried to make Kurdistan like other cities in Iraq, but the Kurdish people and the government will not let that happen.”


Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Eylül 2013, 23:43

Muhammed Öylek