Strategy Note /

Iraq election delay risks more protests

  • Early elections have been delayed from June to October 2021 on the pretext of time needed for technical preparations

  • Delay allows Iraqi power brokers to observe Iran's presidential election (June 2021) and US-Iran relations under Biden

  • But it also risks another round of disruptive protests, particularly in the summer months (power outages)

Iraq election delay risks more protests
Hasnain Malik
Hasnain Malik

Strategy & Head of Equity Research

Tellimer Research
20 January 2021
Published byTellimer Research

There are currently ten times more US troops in Washington than there are in Iraq (c2,500). As those troops assemble to ensure the orderly finale of the US election, with the inauguration of Joe Biden, the early election in Iraq has been pushed back four months to October 2021. The pretext provided by PM al-Kadhimi (late on 19 January) is that the election commission requested more time to prepare.

While there may be redrawing of electoral constituencies and more complexity in assembling candidate lists with more independents, the reality is that the delay allows Iraq's power brokers to raise finance, determine campaign messages, and choose post-election alliances having observed both the outcome of the presidential election in Iran and the progress of US-Iran relations under the Biden administration.

The risk is that the election delay triggers a resumption of mass protests (and the use of force against those protestors by militia threatened by any change to the status quo of formal politics). Protests kicked off in October 2019 and one of the concessions made in response to their allegations of fraud in the May 2018 election was to bring forward the next election by a year.

Iraq is likely to be in for another long and hot summer.

Iraq's parliament is fragmented, PM has no party of his own, and now early election delayed from June to October 2021

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