The elections are over and it’s the PUK who are smiling

By Mufid Abdulla:

Qubad Talabani casts his vote for the PUK

Qubad Talabani casts his vote for the PUK

On 30th April 2014 elections for the Iraqi parliament and local councils took place and, once again, the results have partly transformed the political map of the south of Kurdistan. This time the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) increased its seats by six, while the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) lost five seats and Gorran won nine seats, only one more than in the last Iraqi parliament elections in 2010. The Gorran Party’s hopes of continued advance faded away with this disappointing result. One of Gorran’s regional election managers straightaway accused the PUK of election rigging but the PUK responded that, “Gorran should wake up to the reality that the PUK bounced back”. Reliable sources close to KT confirmed to us that, following the announcement of the results, a member of the Gorran national executive council visited Nawshirwan Mustafa and told him that he will be blamed for the Gorran’s poor showing. I have also spoken to someone close to the PUK leadership who said that, “We are the PUK, we pulled special squads together, we knocked every old and new door and every person. We told people, if you want us to be back to the game we need your help and votes. That was the reason for the result”.

For most people in the south of Kurdistan, including much of the media, the local and Iraqi parliament elections were about surges and earthquakes. But for the three main parties – the KDP, PUK and Gorran – this was a giant war game: the final opportunity to stress-test their campaign strategies and structures before the next general election. Since 1st May so many teams from each party have been poring over the results and what they’ve discovered is not just conventional wisdom, but also their predictions for the next elections to the Kurdistan parliament in 2017.

Gorran did not accept the latest results and it has appealed against the decision and submitted complaints about electoral fraud. In the first week in May, Gorran claimed that hundreds thousands of votes had been stolen by the PUK. Last week, however, Gorran’s election department issued a statement saying that only 12,000 votes need to be restored to the movement. The PUK leadership of the Suli first branch told the media that, “Gorran is losing … first time they said 100,000 votes were taken by the PUK, now they are saying only 12,000, that does not add up to the original claim”. The PUK has drawn one main lesson: their plan worked. One PUK member told me, “To be quite honest, we couldn’t believe how well our vote held up, in both Iraqi parliament and council seats. We had a strategy”. What instilled genuine confidence is the effective way the PUK used three tactics: first, their effort to secure an increase turnout; second, they worked to advantage their ‘break’ with the KDP; third, they pushed their more popular leaders to the fore. This three-pronged plan was successful. By contrast, the Gorran movement ran a very rudimentary campaign and their leader was too confident to bother coming to any political rally before the election. Nawshirwan Mustafa made some speech on the TV but he did not go to meet ordinary people like Talabani Junior, Qubad, did. Gorran’s grassroots are disappointed and they spent the evening of the results fuming at their TV screens because KNN, the pro-Gorran station, wasn’t facing the truth about what a poor result it was for Nawshirwan Mustafa. Obviously, Gorran has been weakened by this and there are murmurings about what is euphemistically known as “the leadership issue”. The party’s strategic mistakes were massive. Gorran thought it could handle the fall out, but its mini-pact with the KDP, ten days before the election, had a toxic effect on many Gorran supporters. Nawshriwan Mustafa has taken Gorran to places where it feels very uncomfortable. The quality of Gorran’s performance can be best divined by the desperate attempts to deflect criticism from their boss. Nobody knows how decisions are made inside the Gorran party. The KDP, by contrast, embarked on a bout of bloodletting that was as farcical as it was damaging – can this be the guide to the next election?

Each of the three main parties learnt different lessons last month. The PUK learnt that their new strategy worked. Gorran learnt that theirs didn’t. The KDP, regardless of whether their strategies work, still have seats in their pocket. The reason for this is that, most of the time, the chairmen of the election commission are pro-KDP and usually, after the elections, they get a post inside either the PUK or KDP! This indicates that the chairman did a good job for one of them and they want him to give him a reward.

4 Responses to The elections are over and it’s the PUK who are smiling
  1. Haval
    June 2, 2014 | 07:33

    Fantastic analysis, I think you made your point, there is one thing I have realized that any political parties, movement and the politicians become an arrogant and snobbish and adopt it as their literature or culture they end up with distancing the voters from themselves, as Goran movement did this time as you rightly stated, they were over confidence, one more fact, Goran are in hurry to replace PUK in the Political scene, in another word they don’t have national objectives neither the welfare of the peoples livelihood nor the enhancement of the political system in Kurdistan as they illustrated but only PUK is their nightmare.

  2. KIM
    June 3, 2014 | 11:49

    The very Obamas Admin that strives hard to pointlessly tout American values around the world is the first violator of Such Fundamental Human Rights. President Obama is totally the opposite of all preceding great African-American Civil Rights Leaders. On one hand, American schools work hard to produce a generation of graduates brain-washed with true lessons of Democracy, HRs, Freedom, on the other hand their government steps on each and every value of their own with total disregard to Humanity. Egypt coup was an example of how Obamas Admin respected democracy. Supporting dictators in Iraq and South Kurdistan is another one. The lingering war in Afghanistan and the never-improving plight of Afghans is the 3rd. The hundred thousands of poor Syrian refugees living in misery in neighboring country is the fourth. The US government need not squander tens of million on trying to boost its shattered image. In stead, it should simply practice its slogans.

  3. LF
    June 4, 2014 | 23:04

    To read more about the tactics that the PUK used, especially those involving Asaish threatening people and even shooting in the schools: or

  4. rusgar
    June 5, 2014 | 18:53

    the tactics of PUK and Maliki was receiving the encoded electronic cards from Iran which was programmed to give 23 votes to PUK and Maliki each time

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