Nawshirwan Mustafa hails ‘new era’ in south Kurdistan

By Mufid Abdulla : Kurdistan Tribune – 29.9.2013 – Gorran leader Nawshirwan Mustafa today hailed the start of a “new era”  in south Kurdistan’s politics, after the electoral high commission confirmed on TV 95% of the parliamentary election results, showing that Nawshirwan’s opposition party has made a stunning leap forward. Gorran is now the second biggest political force, with 446,000 votes compared to the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP’s) 719,000 votes. Gorran has pushed the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) – which has shared the spoils of power with the KDP – into third place, with 323,000 votes.

For many Kurdistanis, although the KDP came first, Gorran is the real winner in this election. They see the 21/9 vote as a landmark election that will forever change the course of the country’s history. Speaking today on the phone to many Gorran supporters who were gathered outside the party’s headquarters in Suli, they all talked to me in terms of this being a triumph of the people. What is fundamentally important is not how many seats were won by each party, but rather that the election process – despite all the vote rigging – was successful.  The people have participated in a democratic process. Despite all the claims and complaints by different groups, this vote is seen as perhaps the freest in the history of this nation of five million people which endured oppressive rule by Saddam for 25 years.

Gorran’s success means a lot to so many people in Kurdistan and there is much excitement at this manifestation of people’s power. It is also a troubling moment for the two ruling parties as this is not the way they wanted things to go. Gorran has campaigned against institutional corruption and this result threatens to derail their highly profitable ‘Strategic Agreement’. For this reason some observers feared that the ruling parties might challenge the results and deploy the military to protect their privileges.  However, according to my sources, Gorran is ready for intensive negotiations with the KDP with a view to the opposition party joining the government on the basis of a commitment to constitutional reforms – which should include the exclusion of party militias from the functions of the state. Gorran is happy with these results but this is just the beginning. Many supporters are hoping that Gorran can use its new, powerful position to secure great changes in Kurdistan.