A man walks past campaign posters in Sulaimani. Photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
By Nawzad Mahmud and Hawkar Yasin
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – Political parties in Kurdistan Region are having to campaign for Iraqi parliamentary elections on a tight budget due to financial constraints.
“Little money has been given to candidates to do their campaigning. The PUK has done some of the posters and photos by itself,” said Bryar Rashid, spokesperson for the PUK’s electoral body.
The PUK has given each of its candidates 750,000 dinars ($633) for initial campaigning, while heads of PUK lists have reportedly been given six million dinars ($5,064).
The KDP has said they are giving as much support to their candidates as they can.
“We have 160 candidates for this election and have decided to help them as much as we can in order for them to be able to do their campaigning. But the claim they are given thousands of dollars is false,” said Khasraw Goran, the head of KDP’s election bureau.
The Kurdistan Region has been suffering under a financial crisis for several years, meaning purse strings are tight ahead of the May 12 vote.
“We have decided to provide financial assistance to our candidates in two installments,” said Qasim Galali, head of Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) election establishment.
The KIU has 53 candidates. Galali said they have given each an initial $500 and will give another $1,000 later. The KIU has itself prepared some of the posters and campaign materials.
Gorran has no intention to give financial assistance to its 45 candidates.
Wuria Mohammed, member of Gorran’s election establishment, said the party’s MPs in Erbil and Baghdad as well as provincial council members have dedicated some of their salary to help fund the campaign. In addition, wealthy donors, especially in Erbil, have provided financial assistance to Gorran.
“We don’t give funds to candidates. They should fund their campaigns themselves. We as Gorran will print 1,000 photos for each candidate,” Mohammed explained.
The parties urged their candidates to be financially independent for campaign purposes when they first registered with the electoral commission. In previous Kurdistan Region parliamentary elections, some candidates sold property to fund their campaigns.
Hawzhin Omar, head of the Islamic Group’s (Komal) election establishment, said his party has also given little cash to its candidates.
“Having too many candidates is not a good idea in this respect. It will put a heavy burden on the party. That is why we have only 19 candidates,” he said.
According to some sources, Komal has given $600 to candidates in need and may give more at a later stage. Omar said the party has done most of the printing work for its candidates.
The Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ) has fielded 100 candidates.
“An agreement has been made with the candidates that they will fund part of their campaigns by themselves and the CDJ will fund the other part. We have no problem because the spirit of volunteering among our candidates is very high,” explained Rebwar Karim, spokesperson for the CDJ.
Rudaw has learnt that CDJ candidates who are well off won’t be given any funds, but those who need assistance will be helped in installments.