A man walks past election posters in Sulaimani. Photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Several Arab lists are fielding candidates in the Kurdistan Region, competing for more than three million Kurdish votes. Some think they’ll have no influence, but others anticipate anger against the KRG may push some Kurds towards the Arab parties.
The Victory (Nasr) Alliance led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has opened an office in Sulaimani and has nine candidates in the province: three women and six men.
The al-Hikma Movement has also opened an office in Sulaimani. The list, led by Ammar al-Hakim, has 16 candidates, of whom the majority is Kurds.
One candidate, Dilsoz Ali Arf, told Rudaw her goal is to “convey the calls and problems of my city to Baghdad.”
Ayad Allawi, head of the al-Wataniya coalition, has three candidates in Sulaimani and four in Erbil.
“I do not think they will have influence over the Kurdistan parties,” Hassan Ismael, a resident of Sulaimani said of the three Arab parties running in his home province. “This is because even the Kurdistan parties’ candidates will not have influence in the Iraqi areas.”
Sarkawt Mohammed, a student, disagrees. He believes the Kurdish parties have had failures in the past few years and have proven they cannot address the needs of the people.
“Over the past years, these Kurdish parties have made no reforms in Kurdistan. Now that elections are approaching, between the Kurdistani and Iraqi parties, people are very furious. They might consider voting for the Iraqi parties,” he said.
Bakir Habib, a Kurd running on Abadi’s list, told Rudaw that they will campaign to serve the people of Sulaimani. “Sulaimani is a little behind in terms of services. We work to fill that gap,” he said.
Sulaimani is shaping up to be a highly contested province in his campaign. The PUK faces multiple challenges in its stronghold from Gorran, CDJ, the New Generation, Islamic parties, and even Abadi's Victory Alliance.
Of the 329 Iraqi parliament seats, 18 are reserved for Sulaimani, the largest province in the Kurdistan Region. Erbil has 16 and Duhok has 12. The federal government does not recognize Halabja as a separate province and includes it in Sulaimani.
Abadi’s alliance also opened an office in Duhok on Monday and is fielding six candidates.
“Together with Abadi, we were in Iran before the fall of the Baathist regime. I am very much amazed by his work and thus I put my candidacy forward on his list,” Nasir Bag Barwari, head of the Victory Alliance in Duhok, told Rudaw.
He said they were promised by Abadi that he would work to serve the city of Duhok.
“A short while ago in Baghdad I sat down with him. He made a lot of promises. He promised to pay the salaries of the Peshmerga and improve roads and traffic in Duhok. Thus, five individuals and I in Duhok decided to run on his list and we hope to receive many votes.”
Duhok is known as a KDP stronghold. The party normally wins large majorities here.
Barwari said their office is well funded, having received “a very good amount of money from Abadi.”
“I cannot say how many seats or votes we achieve, but I am sure many people in Duhok will vote for us.”
Iraqi parliamentary elections will take place on May 12.