Ahead of Final Count, PUK Accepts Defeat in Kurdistan Polls

The results so far show that the PUK is behind Gorran by around a quarter million votes in Sulaimani

By RUDAW – 23.9.2013 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – With final results from Saturday’s parliamentary elections in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region still to come, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has accepted defeat.

“Though we still have to wait to see the final results of the election, we are made anxious by the initial results,” read a statement that followed a meeting Sunday of the PUK’s political bureau. “The early results conflict with the PUK’s history of struggle, yet we accept the results,” the party said after the meeting, which was headed by deputy secretary general Kosrat Rasul.

The results so far show that the PUK is behind Gorran by around a quarter million votes in Sulaimani. Gorran’s resounding victory in Sulaimani, a city that has long been known as PUK’s stronghold,  appears to have served as a wake-up call for PUK leaders, who already are speaking of the need to reflect on their strategies. “The PUK will look into the different causes that led to this outcome,” the party said in its statement. “It will reassess its mechanism of work, management, and responsibilities.”

Also on Sunday, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said that it will still honor its Strategic Agreement with the PUK. The two signed the cooperation agreement in 2007, and became partners in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) following the 2009 legislative polls. The vote count so far places KDP in the lead, Gorran second and the PUK trailing in third place. That could mean that the KDP could ask Gorran to join the next government, dropping its partnership in the KRG with the PUK.

Izaddin Barwari, the head of the KDP’s leadership assembly, said that the Strategic Agreement with the PUK is a separate issue from that of the new government, which will be formed once the election results are concluded. “The KDP favors a broad-based government,” he said. Even though the KDP appears to have gained the largest number of votes, its victory is nowhere as significant as the landslide victory achieved by Gorran in Sulaimani. Nevertheless, KDP leaders have been happily boasting that their votes in Sulaimani had increased by close to 30,000 compared to the 2009 elections.

A KDP spokesman denied claims that the rise in KDP votes in Sulaimani was because the party had given financial incentives or privileges to people there.

Saturday’s elections were praised by local and international observers, mainly because the results appear to vary from all previous elections.  Gorran looked likely to secure second place and the Islamic Union – its opposition partner for the past four years – also was faring relatively well.

“The parliamentary elections were successful and trouble-free,” said Alaa Zuheri, head of a 14-member election monitoring team sent by the Arab League to Kurdistan. “It was an important step towards democracy.”Meanwhile Miqdad Sharifi, an official at the election commission, warned against wild speculations about the results. “The commission has not released any results yet and whatever appears in the media now is false,” he said.