The main Kurdish political parties in Iraq are exchanging accusations of widespread voter intimidation and vote rigging, even after Baghdad announced final results from the May 12 elections. Six Kurdish opposition parties are demanding a rerun of the election in the autonomous region and adjacent disputed territories. Several parties have filed formal complaints with the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in Baghdad. While the allegations are yet to be matched by hard evidence, the fracas is undermining faith in the political process in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which remains in political turmoil following a failed independence referendum last year.
Ahead of the elections, some observers predicted that public discontent over unmet political promises, unpaid civil salaries and a lack of services could prove a boon to new parties promising to tackle cronyism, while precipitating a backlash against the two dominant political parties in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).
Instead the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (KDP) – both of which are led by dynastic families who command armed wings and patronage networks of hardcore supporters – performed well, winning 38 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.
The PUK party won back its home province of Sulaimaniya, opposition heartland which it had lost in 2009 to the breakaway Gorran Movement.