| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Iraq holds first provincial elections in a decade

In the first provincial council elections in Iraq in ten years, voting got off on Monday. The ruling Shi’ite Muslim alliance is expected to maintain its hold on power despite a boycott by its principal political adversary, the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The outcome of the election will determine the balance of power in a country where factions with ties to Iran have gained political clout recently. The country’s parliamentary elections are slated for 2025.

Local elections last took place in 2013. They were postponed since due to the war against Islamic State militants who took over large parts of Iraq but were eventually defeated.

Sadr’s Shi’ite rivals, who blocked his bid to form a government after he emerged as a winner in 2021 parliamentary polls, are likely to take control of most local councils, especially in the mainly Shi’ite southern provinces.

This would further consolidate the power of the ruling Shi’ite alliance which is close to Iran, known as the Coordination Framework, deepening their power via access to state oil wealth that can be spent on local projects and services.

The alliance already form the single-largest bloc in parliament after members of Sadr’s party withdrew.

Voting takes place in 15 of Iraq’s 18 provinces to select 285 council-members whose duties include appointing powerful provincial governors and overseeing local administration.

Elections in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, which includes three provinces, are expected to take place next year.

  • Reuters