A PUK delegation met with the KDP on Saturday to begin discussions about forming the next government. Photo: Rudaw
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – The issue of deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Region is emerging as a possible deal breaker as parties hammer out an agreement on the next government.
Both the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Gorran have told the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) that they want the post.
The KDP, which won the most seats in the September parliamentary election, opened talks with the PUK and Gorran in separate talks with each on Saturday.
The meeting with the PUK focused on setting an agenda for the new government, a PUK leadership member told Rudaw on condition of anonymity. But the issue of divvying up positions was also raised.
“The PUK told the KDP delegation that they have the right to take the positions of parliament speaker, deputy prime minister, and two key ministries,” the PUK official said.
Their demand for these posts is not intended to discourage Gorran from participating in the government, the official explained. “These are the demands of the PUK. And Gorran can also put forward its demands in the meetings. But Gorran should understand the number of its seats is half of the PUK’s and there are other meetings to be held.”
In the election, the KDP won 45 seats in the 111-seat parliament, the PUK came a distant second with 21 seats, and Gorran was pushed into third with 12 seats – half what it held in the previous parliament.
Creating a second deputy prime minister post is one idea that has been floating around since the election. The KDP said the new posts will be to bring more minority representation into the government.
“There will be two deputies for the prime minister and speaker of parliament. In this cabinet, the KDP will satisfy the Turkmen and Christians. The position of deputy speaker of parliament will be given to the Turkmen and the PUK will be okay with having two deputies for the post of prime minister and parliament speaker,” said KDP leadership member Nouri Hama Ali.
The PUK, however, is not happy with the possibility of sharing the deputy prime minister role.
“The PUK has nominated Qubad Talabani for the post of deputy prime minister and Rewaz Fayeq for the position of parliament speaker. But the PUK will not put Qubad Talabani forward if the KDP insists on having two deputies for the prime minister,” a PUK official said.
According to some PUK sources, the party wants the ministries of natural resources and interior. The KDP, however, has said it wants to keep those two, but is prepared to give the Ministry of Peshmerga to the PUK.
These details have been left for the second round of talks, however.
The new parliament held its first session on November 6. In the meeting, lawmakers were sworn in, but the speaker of the parliament was not elected as parties had not yet reached a deal on who the post should go to.
Gorran has asked the KDP what positions the party can expect if it chooses to join the next government.
The party might take part in a coalition government “if we are given three ministries, even if the post of deputy prime minister is not given to us,” he added.
The KDP leadership will meet in the coming days to discuss all options and formalize its position. Then a delegation headed by Nechirvan Barzani will go back to Sulaimani.
The party’s goal is to have the speaker of parliament elected before the end of November and the government formed before the new year.