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Evaluative statement on the parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Region Erbil – 1st October 2018

01-10-2018

 Evaluative statement on the parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Region Erbil – 1st October 2018

 

 Introduction

The parliamentary elections for 2018 in the Kurdistan region took place yesterday 30th September 2018, to affirm the commitment of the region’s people to the periodic elections principle and peaceful transition of power. And we, the Arab network for democratic delegation, congratulate the region of Kurdistan for this democratic achievement, which was accomplished despite all the challenges facing the region.

The Arab Network for Democratic Elections is a regional network that includes a group of Arab non-governmental organizations and aims to develop a culture of democracy and respect for human rights through electoral reform and enhancing transparency in the Arab region. These organizations have come from 13 Arab countries (Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iraq, Palestine, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, and Yemen) within the framework of the Arab Network for Democratic Elections.

Since its establishment in 2009, it has contributed to the evaluation of electoral processes in Lebanon, Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Kuwait, Mauritania and Iraq and published evaluative reports, including proposals and recommendations to reform the electoral process.

The Arab Network for Democratic Elections is grateful to the Independent Electoral Commission for Elections and Referendum in the Kurdistan Region for its call to observe the elections and all the facilities it has provided to our network delegation in order to carry out our work independently. In particular, we would like to thank the Tammuz Organization for Social Development (member of the network in Iraq) for all the efforts they have made to ensure the success of this mission. And thanks to all the parties and forces that have received us to collect their opinions of the democratic process in the region, and thank you, which are present today in this meeting of journalists and observers for electoral matter.

during its presence in the Kurdistan Region, The delegation met with the Independent High Electoral Commission and the Referendum and most of the political parties participating in and boycotting the elections in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, in addition to a number of civil society organizations and media, the delegation monitored both the private and public elections.

 First, the political, economic and social environment

Parliamentary elections are held in the Kurdistan Region for the fifth time since 1992, and despite all the challenges that the region is facing, whether political, economic or security, but the preservation of the principle of circulation of power and resort to the ballot boxes was respected by all observers.

The Kurdish political poles have been divided in their positions on holding the elections on time. Some political forces believe that the political situation is not appropriate to complete a transparent and fair democratic process, especially in light of the economic stagnation and the political division of the country, which led to a state of frustration among the Kurdish voters.

In turn, it affected the participation rate in the elections. Others saw that the elections are a new starting point that will inevitably lead to the revival of political life and the search for exits to major political crises.

It has been a year since the referendum, on the secession of the region from Iraq, which was conducted on 25th September 2017.

And then the elections of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, which took place on 12 May 2018, and both times the process was problematic political problems (in the first case) and administrative, organizational and legal (in the second case) led to the loss of citizens' confidence in democracy and its mechanisms, which put political parties in the challenge of restoring confidence from supporters and making promises that they can fulfill.

The political forces see the establishment of an independent electoral and referendum commission in the region as a good step, but they question its independence as a result of the way it is formed through party quotas. The network's delegation has noted attempts by the Commission to take the lead, but some of the decisions issued prior to the elections indicate the need to adopt firmer positions.

The political forces met by the delegation expressed their doubts about voter registration frauds or voters' identity documents, based on live documents and certificates in their possession confirming the spread of fraud. Note that the Commission tried to control fraud and reduce it with all available means.

The political process in the Kurdistan Region is sensitive and accurate, as a result of a number of challenges, including the imbalance in the relationship between parties and citizens on the one hand, and between the regional government and the central government on the other, which is reflected on the democratic process. In fact, the true outcome of this crisis is to respect the will of the voter, reduce corruption and counterfeiting, and adopt human rights policies that favor citizens, the past experiences should be used, especially in the past year, to build a prosperous future for the region and its people.

 Second: The legal framework

Law No. 5 of 2009 (the Fifth Amendment to the Kurdistan Elections Law - Iraq 1992) adopted the system of full proportional representation in light of the region’s adoption of one electoral district and the distribution of seats on the basis of the largest residences.

The law also provides for the adoption of a vote for the list, and the candidate's vote from within the list (open list). The age of candidacy has been reduced from 30 to 25 years and the age of voting to 18 years.

Each political entity in the Kurdistan Region has the right to submit its own list of candidates, containing 30% of the women. Women are ranked according to the quota system (at least 3 candidates). The law defined the number of seats in the House of Representatives with 111 seats, five of which were reserved for Assyrian Syriac Chaldeans, 5 other are the Turkmen seats and one seat for the Armenians. According to the text of the law, each component is elected by voters of the components mentioned.

Article 6 of the Fourth Amendment Law No. 2 of 2009 stipulates that "the Supreme Electoral Commission shall be formed by law to supervise the elections in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the Department of Electoral Operations. It shall prepare the voter lists and determine the polling stations in the Region, issue the necessary instructions to facilitate the conduct of the elections, Polling stations committees ".

 Third: Observations

General Notes

1. Absence of clear foundations for the formation of the Commission commensurate with its independence.

2. Absence of a clear ceiling for electoral spending and electoral propaganda, which opens the way for electoral money and affects the equality of all competing lists.

3. The absence of a specialized judicial body to deal with electoral disputes adversely affects the rights of candidates and voters

4. The absence and non-existence of a census restricts the access of all citizens to exercise their right to political participation. The adoption of a variety of ballot documents requires considerable effort, longer time, more effective media and publicity. The polling day witnessed many voters being deprived of their right to vote as a result of the adoption of some last minute measures.

5. The adoption of the age of 25 years to run for elections deprives a large group of young people of their right to participate in public affairs.

6. The law affirmed the right of civil society to monitor the elections. The IHEC has facilitated monitoring missions to the necessary permits. However, domestic and international monitoring missions have found it difficult to obtain adequate information on the legal framework and relevant decisions.

 Remarks on the electoral process and the voting day (private and public)

1. the Independent High Commission for Elections and Referendum (IHEC) issued resolutions in the last hours prior to the election, confusing political entities and voters, leading to the inability of a large number of voters to participate in the voting process.

2. the decision of the Commission to adopt the accreditation of the electoral process, in accordance with the electronic criteria, would require the different political forces not to question the results of the elections.

3. The campaign of electoral campaigns has been characterized by a commitment to calm and generalizing political entities, despite intensive media campaigns and large financial expenditure on advertising and advertising, which is a matter of strict control or action.

4. The voting period is not allowed for some parties to the general election poll, as some of the entities have been formed to issue media positions during the voting period, thus creating a climate change, especially in the governorate of Sulaymaniyah, where political positions are held by political entities.

5. Counting and counting of special votes should be done only in parallel with counting and counting on the evening of the general polling day, which will have a significant impact on voters' mood.

6. the imposition of tension on the hours of the last election, especially in the governorate of Sulaymaniyah and Maribel, which is subject to the freedom of the electoral process. The local security control teams have registered security forces, and the security men have been removed from a center.

7. The Commission has adopted procedures for the control of voter fraud in voters' papers. However, local control reports have been recorded in various governorates throughout the polling area.

8. The Network's delegation noted the presence of observers / international and international stakeholders in the electoral process.

 Fourth: Recommendations

Based on the principles and international standards of freedom and integrity of the elections adopted by the Arab Network for Democracy Elections, and based on the conclusions reached by the dlegation we recommend the following:

General Recommendations:

1- The necessity of conducting a population census for all the inhabitants of the region and revising the voter register annually to avoid any mistakes.

2. To agree on a social contract that guarantees equality between all citizens, regulates the political and administrative relationship, and contributes to the establishment of stability and effective citizenship.

3 - Organization of political action through the adoption of a law of parties to harmonize civil and political rights.

4 - Review the system of the composition of the Commission and the reform of its constituent and organizational systems to ensure its independence, and ensure that it is assigned a sufficient period of time to organize the electoral process.

5. Amend the electoral law to include the formation of a competent judicial body to decide on electoral disputes and determine the legal deadlines for appeals.

 Recommendations in the Elections Law:

1. Reforming the electoral law in line with international standards for the integrity and transparency of elections, respecting the principles of equality of opportunity among all citizens, respecting the will of voters, and ensuring greater popular participation in the electoral process.

2 - The development of a law and rules governing electoral spending and electoral propaganda, allowing opportunities for competition among all candidates in a fair and free manner.

3. Reviewing the division of constituencies in order to ensure representation and expand participation in the elections. Emphasizing that the proportional electoral system is the most equitable system, and therefore we see the importance of maintaining and developing the system in order to serve the electoral process and the health of representation.

4. Not to discriminate between candidates and candidates when calculating the winners, in respect of the will of the voters without regard to the quota imposed by law.

5. Reduce the age of candidacy to at least 21 years (in line with the principle of reducing the age of voting to 18 years).

 

Arab Network for Democratic Elections

Erbil 1st October 2018

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