Iraqi PM calls for elections to be held a year earlier
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi announced the parliamentary elections will be held a year earlier than scheduled in line with a promise he made when he took office.
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“June 6, 2021, has been fixed as the date for the next legislative elections,” the premier said during a televised speech on Friday, stressing that everything would be done in a bid to “protect and ensure the success of these polls.”
In a statement shortly released following the speech, the United Nations mission in Iraq hailed Kadhimi’s announcement, saying the move would promote “greater stability and democracy.”
Mass protests swept over the capital Baghdad and the south of the country in October 2019, with young crowds demanding jobs, services, and urgent action against alleged rampant corruption.
Former Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi stepped down under the pressure of the rallies, which were sometimes marred by deadly violence.
The incumbent premier was nominated in April, months after the resignation of Abdul Mahdi, and took office following a political consensus in May, promising to deliver on key protesters' demands.
Furthermore, Kadhimi has promised dialogue with protesters and has requested comprehensive lists of all those who have been killed and wounded throughout the months-long protests in a bid to put those accountable on trial and bring about compensation.
The next legislative elections had originally been due for May 2022. After the date was drawn a year closer by the prime minister, it is now the parliament’s turn to officially vote on the new date.
Early parliamentary elections have been a key demand of anti-government protesters, but it is not yet clear under what electoral law the early elections will be held.
Late last year, a new electoral law was passed, aiming at giving political independents a better chance of securing seats in parliament and weakening the hold of the ruling elites, but political differences prevail over the implementation of the legislation.
If the new law is implemented, it would change each of Iraq’s 18 provinces into a number of electoral districts, with one lawmaker elected per 100,000 people, meaning that it would practically bar parties from running on unified lists, which in the past has helped them win all the seats in a certain province.