ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The major Kurdish parties have submitted their candidates to Iraq’s election body, in preparation for the May vote. Selection criteria vary for each party, including women and youth representation, education levels, and party loyalty.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the largest Kurdish party in the Iraqi parliament is running 30 candidates in Erbil province, 34 in Sulaimani, 22 in Duhok, and 57 in Nineveh province. The KDP currently has 26 seats in the Iraqi parliament.
Twenty-five percent of their candidates are women, Khasraw Goran, head of the KDP elections department, told the party’s media.
He explained that they have “reappointed some former Kurdistan Region parliament MPs and some former MPs of the Iraqi Council of Representatives” to run.
They are not fielding candidates in Kirkuk province, Goran reiterated.
The KDP announced it would boycott the vote in Kirkuk after the Kurdish parties failed to form a joint list in the disputed province, Goran said.
The KDP considers Kirkuk occupied by Iraqi forces, who took control on October 16.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the second largest Kurdish bloc in Baghdad with 21 current seats, is fielding 36 candidates in Sulaimani, 30 in Erbil, 22 in Duhok, 24 in Kirkuk, 62 in Nineveh, 26 in Diyala, and 10 in Baghdad.
A senior PUK leader has urged that "decency" must become the basis for selecting PUK candidates.
“The selection of PUK candidates for the Iraqi parliament must be on the basis of loyalty, decency, and sophistication,” said Qubad Talabani, a senior PUK member and deputy prime minister of the KRG.
“Favoritism” must end, he stressed, noting that “the protection of PUK becomes everyone’s duty.”
Gorran, which currently has eight seats in Baghdad, has 21 candidates running in Sulaimani, four in Duhok, and 13 in Erbil.
“Gorran’s list for the elections is one of the best lists containing the most right candidates having various expertise, skills and work experiences,” Zimnako Jalal, Gorran’s elections office coordinator, told party media Sbeiy.
“The candidates have strong personalities in society,” he explained.
The newly-established Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ) of Dr. Barham Salih, former second deputy secretary general of the PUK, has 36 candidates in Sulaimani, 30 in Erbil, and 19 in Duhok.
Bakir Siddiq, head of the CDJ elections body, explained their criteria when selecting candidates, including considering youth and women.
“It is worth mentioning that in electing the candidates, the CDJ elections body has considered the measures of geography, the ratio of the youth, and scholastic knowledge,” Siddiq said, adding “more importantly, women have been given a wider chance which is in line with the High Electoral Commission’s laws.”
CDJ’s candidates hold Bachelors, Masters, and doctoral degrees in administrative, legal, economic, and other scientific fields.
The Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) has 13 candidates in Sulaimani, 11 in Erbil, and 17 in Duhok.
Mustafa Abdullah, head of KIU internal affairs, earlier told Rudaw that the bulk of KIU candidates carry post-graduate degrees such as PhDs.
“Our candidates have political experience and they have demonstrated great examples in the past,” he said.
The election body of the Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal) also announced its candidate list. The party will run in Erbil with five candidates, seven in Sulaimani, and three in Duhok.
The Change Movement, Komal, and the CDJ are running on a joint list in the disputed provinces.
The Kurdistan Communist Party has fielded five candidates in Sulaimani – all women.
An Arab party has announced it is running candidates in the Kurdistan Region.
Ayad Allawi, head of the Iraqi National Coalition, has three candidates in Sulaimani and four in Erbil.
Iraq will hold parliamentary elections on May 12. The deadline for registering candidates is February 15. There are 328 seats in the parliament.