A poor economy, political instability and insecurity in Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government persist ahead of Iraq's national parliamentary election on May 12.
As Iraq prepares for national elections, the country's semi-autonomous northern region is embroiled in political instability and suffering from dire economic circumstances.
Tensions ahead of the May 12 election have risen among political parties in the provinces controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government.
The election for the national parliament had been due to take place on November 1, 2017, but was cancelled in October as tensions rose following the KRG's independence drive last September.
After months of political crisis, the region's parliament recently took necessary measures for elections to also be held in the KRG-controlled regions.
In the 2014 national general election, Kurdish parties, captured 62 seats in 328-seat Iraqi parliament.
The autonomous region’s economy has been in crisis since the KRG took on the central government by selling oil without Baghdad's consent and holding a pro-independence referendum, that was roundly condemned by the international community.
The worsening political and economic situation saw some of the major parties in the region – including Gorran Movement, Kurdistan Islamic Group, and Kurdistan Islamic Union – leaving the regional coalition government in December 2017.
Only the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Islamic Movement remain in the KRG coalition.
Political parties contesting
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Masoud Barzani, garnered 25 seats in the Iraqi parliament in the last general election and 38 seats in KRG’s parliament.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan has been considered as the strongest party after KDP since it secured 21 seats in Baghdad.
Some claim the party has been in a crisis after Jalal Talabani, one of the party’s founders, died on October 3, 2017.
With its nine seats in the national parliament, the Gorran Movement became the main opposition in the regional parliament. It has targeted corruption in the KRG.
The Kurdistan Islamic Union, which is known to have close ties with Muslim Brotherhood, captured four seats in the national parliament.
It also has a considerable amount of supporters in the Sulaymaniyah and Halabja regions under the control of the KRG.
Kurdistan Islamic Group, led by Ali Bapir, got three seats in Iraqi national parliament.