The PUK is going through a period of transition after multiple setbacks last year, including the death of its founder Mam Jalal Talabani and the loss of its stronghold Kirkuk.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has allied with an Arab list in Saladin province to run for Iraqi elections, a party member confirmed to Rudaw English.
Head of the PUK organization office in Hamrin Mullah Karim Shakir told Rudaw English on Friday that they had joined the Arab Masses list in Tuz Khurmatu to run for both the provincial and parliamentary elections, scheduled for May 12.
The idea to ally with the Arab list came about after the Kurdish parties failed to form a united front, Shakir explained.
He believes the PUK has made the right decision because if Kurds run alone in the disputed areas of Saladin province, home to the troubled Tuz Khurmatu, they will not secure any seats in the Iraqi parliament. In previous elections, the Kurdish vote did not pass 22,000, while securing a seat in the parliament requires at least 40,000 votes.
He urged other Kurdish parties to join them in order to have at least two candidates for the parliament from Saladin province.
Another benefit from joining the Arab list is to secure local posts in Tuz Khurmatu, Shakir added.
Arif Qurbany, a political analyst and commenter, hailed the PUK move as “a good decision.”
He said the weight of the Kurdish vote “even if they are all united and run on a joint list, will not secure a seat in the Iraqi parliament.”
He noted that the Turkmen, whose population numbers just half of the Kurds, have three representatives from Tuz Khurmatu in the Iraqi parliament. “This is all because they, every time, join powerful lists,” Qurbany explained.
In 2005, all the Kurdish factions ran on a united list in Saladin province, but they did not win a single seat, Qurbany noted. The same thing happened in 2009.
Kurds with 20,000 to 23,000 votes have not been able to secure a seat, while Arab and Turkmen with 8,000 to 9,000 votes get seats, he said.
The PUK is going through a period of transition after multiple setbacks last year, including the death of its founder Mam Jalal Talabani and the loss of its stronghold Kirkuk. The party will hold a congress in early March to elect a new leader and decide a path forward for the party.
Qubad Talabani, son of Mam Jalal Talabani and deputy KRG prime minister, said that the PUK was making a change from “slogan to action.”
“We will together make the PUK a modern party in a way its whole structure will cope with contemporary dynamics. The minds of the youth will lead the changes. We will put an end to the idea of casting aside one another and protect the bouquet of [Mam Jalal],” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Qubad Talabani is tipped as a frontrunner to replace his father as head of the party.
Multi-ethnic Tuz Khurmatu in Saladin province is about 155 kilometers south of the Kurdistan Region’s capital city of Erbil. It is part of the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad. In mid-October, the city came under the control of Iraqi forces.
Former Mayor Shalal Abdul, a PUK member, was removed from his post by a council vote in early January.
Ethnic strife increased in the city after it came under Iraqi control. Kurdish neighbourhoods were looted, burned and bombed, or appear to have been appropriated by the Hashd al-Shaabi, international rights organizations, the UN, and a Rudaw field report all confirmed.
Thousands of Kurds from Tuz Khurmatu are sheltering in the Kurdistan Region, still unable to return to their homes.
The Kurdish parliament has dubbed the events “genocide” and the Iraqi parliament has pledged to conduct an investigation.