PUK Falls to Third Place In Iraqi Kurdistan Elections

By Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi election commission decided to postpone declaring the election results in Iraqi Kurdistan because fraud accusations were made by the oppositionist Movement for Change against its adversaries — the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (pictured), and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Kurdistan Region of Iraq President Massoud Barzani.

Despite that, preliminary electoral results pointed to a new political map in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which is trying to present a successful economic model compared to the rest of Iraq.

The preliminary figures cited by the parties, observers and independent organizations were based on polling station counts. The results showed the KDP in first place with 37.4% of the vote, which would give the party about a third of the total seats. Parliament is comprised of 111 seats, in addition to the 11 seats reserved for non-Kurdish minorities, which have traditionally been close to Barzani.

The KDP’s main ally, Talabani’s PUK, slipped to third place with 16.6% of the vote. The Movement for Change came in second place with 24.7%, followed by the Kurdistan Islamic Union with 9.8 %, the Islamic Group with 6.1%, al-Haraka al-Islamiyya with 1.2% and 4.2% for the other parties.

These figures are subject to change. A source from the Electoral Commission in Erbil told Al-Monitor that approximately 40% of the 150,000 votes of the security forces and of the Iraqi Kurdistan guard — the Peshmerga — will go to Barzani’s party.

The official results are expected to be announced on Sept. 30, but the overall standings are not expected to be affected, prompting some within the PUK — including the deputy head of the party, Barham Salih — to recognize the party’s decline. He said, “The loss is harsh, but denying the people’s will would be shameful,” in reference to accusations by the Movement for Change that the PUK and the KDP are trying to rig the results.

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