Iraqi Kurdistan parliamentary election, 2009

Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election, 2009
Iraqi Kurdistan
July 25, 2009

Total of 111 seats of the Kurdistan National Assembly
56 seats were needed for a majority
The two most popular Lists
  First party Second party
Leader Barham Salih Nawshirwan Mustafa
Party Kurdistani List Gorran
Last election 59 seats -
Seats won 59 25
Seat change Decrease19 Increase25
Popular vote 1,076,370 445,024
Percentage 57.34% 23.75%

Definitive results.

Prime Minister before election

Nechervan Barzani

Elected Prime Minister

Barham Salih

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Iraqi Kurdistan

The Iraqi Kurdistan legislative elections of 2009 took place on 25 July 2009. A total of 2.5 million citizens of Iraqi Kurdistan were eligible to vote for the parliamentary and presidential elections.[1] People currently living outside Iraqi Kurdistan were not allowed to vote.[2] The elections followed the Iraqi Kurdistan elections of 2005. The parliamentary elections coincided with the direct election of the President of Kurdistan. Unlike the Iraqi Kurdistan elections of 2005, the president of Kurdistan was to be chosen directly through popular votes. A referendum to approve the constitution of Iraqi Kurdistan originally planned for the same day was put back to 1 August.[1]

Campaigning for the elections officially started on 22 June 2009 and was to be stopped 48 hours before voting started.[3] The elections were held with 84 registration centers and 5,403 polling stations in Kurdistan and 5 polling stations in Baghdad.


The elections for the Kurdistan National Assembly were administered by the Independent High Electoral Commission. In addition, international observers monitored the elections, including from the European Commission.[4][5]

The elections were originally scheduled to take place on 19 May, but were delayed until 25 July.[6]


Eleven of the 111 seats are reserved for minorities. Five are reserved for Assyrians, five for Turkmen, and one for Armenians. The Assyrian seats will be contested by four lists, the Turkmen seats by four as well and the Armenian seat by three individuals.[7][8]

Voting system

The voting system to be used is the closed list system, as was used for the Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election, 2005. The open list system had been introduced for the Iraqi governorate elections, 2009 elsewhere in Iraq, and the decision to stay with a closed list was criticised by members of the Kurdistan National Assembly who argued open lists strengthened the relationship between voters and candidates and reduced corruption.[1]

At least 30% of the candidates on each list must be female.[7]

Electoral candidates

There were 509 candidates running in the elections, from 25 parties or lists.[9] Five of these entities were electoral alliances and others were political parties. The two main Kurdish parties - the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iraq of Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of the President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani - continued their electoral coalition in the Kurdistani List. They were challenged by the Change List led by Nawshirwan Mustafa, the former deputy secretary general of the PUK and Jawhar Namiq, a former secretary general of the KDP and speaker of the Kurdistan National Assembly.[10] The Kurdistan Islamic Union and Islamic Group in Kurdistan formed a coalition with two secular parties called the Service and Reform List. The full list of entities, each with their lot number, are listed below:

# Name Parties Platform
50 Kurdistan Bright Future List - Led by Dr. Muhammad Saleh Hama Faraj, who lived in exile in the UK from 1980 to 2008. Dr. Faraj promised to separate government from the political parties, strengthen an independent, non-corrupt and just judiciary, and that if he becomes a member of parliament he will demand a rewrite of the constitution.
51 Democratic National Union of Kurdistan Democratic National Union of Kurdistan The party's main agenda is gaining independence for Greater Kurdistan, which includes territories of Turkey, Iran and Syria. The party had close ties with the PKK in the 1990s. In 2005, the party was part of the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan(DPAK) coalition and received 1 seat. It is led by Ghafur Makhmuri.
52 Iraqi Constitutional Party - Founded in 2005 by the Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad Bulani.
53 Kurdistan Toilers and Workers list - The Kurdistan Toilers and Workers Party List promised it would work to improve justice and the rule of law in the region. The Party has been working as an organization for 14 years.
54 Kurdistani List Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)
An alliance between the two largest parties, who held 59 of the 111 seats in the parliament. They are seen as broadly center-left to centrist parties. The list is led by Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani.
55 Social Justice and Freedom List Kurdistan Communist Party
Kurdistan Toilers Party
Kurdistan Independent Work Party
Kurdistan pro-Democratic Party
Democratic Movement of Kurdistan People
These parties are left-wing oriented in ideology. Their main concern is to keep Iraqi Kurdistan secular. KCP was part of the DPAK alliance in 2005 and received 3 seats. KTP won one seat in the 2005 elections independently.
57 Change List - Considered to be the main opposition to the Kurdistani List, particularly in areas dominated by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan(PUK). Most of its members, including the leader Nawshirwan Mustafa, are ex-PUK officials. It was running mainly to address what it saw as corruption and nepotism undertaken by the KDP and PUK.
58 Islamic Movement of Kurdistan Islamic Movement of Kurdistan Founded in 1979, it is led by Shaykh Uthman Abd-Aziz and gets most of its support in-and-around the city of Halabja. While it has not officially forced Sharia law in its controlling territory, the party does want Islamic law to be the main source for the constitution.
59 Service and Reform List Kurdistan Islamic Union
Islamic Group in Kurdistan
Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party
Future Party
KIU considers itself as "Islamic reformative" and has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. In the 2005 elections, it joined DPAK alliance and won 9 seats. IGK was formed after some members split from the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (#58) in 2001 and is rumored to have some ties with Iran. It came second to the DPAK alliance in the 2005 elections and won 6 seats in the parliament. Its leader Ali Bapir was imprisoned by the US forces between 2003 and 2005 on allegations of attacking coalition forces and aiding Ansar Al Islam. Future Party was recently created by Qadir Aziz who was sacked as the leader of the Kurdistan Toiler's Party for not being "committed to the party." KSDP was part of the DPAK alliance in 2005 and received 2 seats.
60 Independent Youths List - The Independent Youth List is headed by Hiwa Abdul-Karim Aziz (known as Hiwa Fryad Ras), a 30-year-old journalist. The list consists of 10 people, made up of lawyers, university teachers and journalists who promised to make the Kurdistan Regional Parliament more active and give more attention to youth issues.
61 Kurdistan Conservative Party - A tribal affiliated party. It is mostly made of the Surchi clan and is led by Zaid Surchi. The clan has clashed with the KDP on numerous occasions. It only received 5,500 votes in the 2005 elections.
62 Progression List - Headed by Halo Ibrahim Ahmed, a former high ranking PUK official. He is Jalal Talabani's brother in law and was running for the presidential elections as well.
64 Unified Chaldean List Chaldean Democratic Union Party
Chaldean National Council
Its main objective is to designate Chaldean Catholics a separate ethnicity from the rest of Assyrians. The two parties have strong ties to the Chaldean Catholic Church. CDUP was part of the DPAK alliance in 2005 and received one seat.
65 Chaldean Syriac Assyrian
Autonomy List
Khaldu-Ashur Communist Party
Assyrian Patriotic Party
KACP is the Assyrian branch of the Kurdistan Communist Party (#55) and its stronghold is in Ankawa. APP's secretary general, Nimrod Baito, is currently KRG's tourism minister. The list's main goal is to absorb the Nineveh Plains into Iraqi Kurdistan region and have autonomy for it.
67 National Rafidain List Assyrian Democratic Movement Founded in 1979, the party was part of the DKAP alliance in 2005 and received 2 seats.
68 Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council - Founded by Sarkis Aghajan, a high ranking KDP official. It is headed by Jamil Zayto. The party is seen as an "Assyrian/Christian branch" of the KDP. It has publicly endorsed Masoud Barzani in the presidential elections.[11]
69 Turkmen Democratic Movement - Created in 2004 by ex-members of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, believing having closer ties to the KRG instead of Turkey would serve the community better. It wants Kirkuk to be annexed by Iraqi Kurdistan.[12] The party receives funds from the KDP and was part of the DPAK alliance in the 2005 elections, which led to it receiving 4 seats.
70 Erbil's Turkmen List - This list is led by five well-known Turkmen persons in Erbil: Sherdil Tahsin Arsalan, Ta'fa Rostam Qasab, Thaura Saleh, Nafeh Rostam and Ahtham Abdul Karim. The List wants Kirkuk to be part of the Kurdish region, and they are against Turkey's interference in Turkmen affairs.
71 Independent Turkment List This list is headed by Kanhan Shakir Aziz; the list says Turkmen are the majority in Kirkuk and that it should be an independent region.
72 Turkmen Rerform List Movement of the Independent Turkmen
(an affiliate of the Iraqi Turkmen Front)
Headed by Kan'an Shakir Aziz, the party's main objective is to not have Kirkuk be annexed by Iraqi Kurdistan.[13]

Armenian individuals:


A Kurdistani List poster in Sulaymaniyah

During the campaign, the electoral commission was reported to have fined the Kurdistani List 3 million riyals for unspecified electoral violations.[14]

A poll of 1,000 people by the Kurdistan-based Point Organization for Opinion Polls & Strategic Studies found most thought the Change List would pose a serious challenge but 49% thought the Kurdistani List would use "threats and fraud".[15]

The Change List has accused the ruling parties of sacking regional government employees who had links to their party. They also claimed that a colonel in the peshmerge regional army had been arrested for supporting them. A Kurdistani List candidate responded by saying "No party allows its members to vote for another list".[15] The Progress List also accused regional intelligence agents of threatening to kill their supporters.[16] Supporters of the change List were shot at in Kifri.[16]

Supporters of the Kurdistani and Change Lists clashed in Sulaimaniyah and were separated by police wielding taser guns.[16]

Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan boycotted the elections because conditions and principles for a fair elections were not met.


Allocation of seats.

Initial reports gave the Kurdistani List 60 percent of the vote, equating to around 55 seats. The Change List claimed it had won around 28 seats.[17]

According to the Los Angeles Times, "Change mounted a spirited challenge to the monopoly on power of the two main parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, making this the first competitive election the semiautonomous enclave has seen. Turnout was put at 78.5%, an indication of the enthusiasm the contest has generated among Kurds." [18][19]

The following tables show the results of the parliamentary and presidential votes by party and by presidential candidate.[20] Seats in yellow indicate reserved minority seats.

Political entity Parties 2009 2005 change
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats % Seats
Kurdistani List
(formerly DPAK in 2005)
Kurdistan Democratic Party
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
1,076,370 57.34 30
1,570,663 89.55 40
32.25 -10
Change List Movement for Change 445,024 23.75 25 part of DPAK +25
Reform and Service Kurdistan Islamic Union
Kurdistan Islamic Group
Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party
Future Party
240,842 12.8 6
- 9
IMK List Kurdistan Islamic Movement 27,147 1.45 2 - +2
TDM List Turkmen Democratic Movement 18,464 0.99 3 DPAK 4 -1
Social Justice and Freedom Kurdistan Toilers’ Party
Kurdistan Communist Party
Kurdistan Independent Work Party
Kurdistan pro-Democratic Party
Democratic Movement of Kurdistan People
15,028 0.82 1 20,585
- 1
CSAPC Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council 10,595 0.58 3 - - - +3
Turkmen Reform Iraqi Turkmen Front 7,077 0.38 1 - +1
National Rafidain Assyrian Democratic Movement 5,690 0.3 2 DPAK 2 2 -
Independent Armenian Aram Shahine Dawood 4,198 0.22 1 -
ET List Erbil Turkmen 3,906 0.21 1 -
KLTP Kurdistan Labor and Toilers Party 3,770 0.18 0 -
Independent Armenian Moses and Artes Sargsian 2,993 0.15 0 -
KCP Kurdistan Conservative Party 2,426 0.13 0 -
Kurdistan Reform Movement 2,071 0.11 0 -
Youth Independent 1,906 0.1 0 -
DNUK List Democratic National Union of Kurdistan 1,700 0.1 - DPAK 1 - -1
United Chaldean Chaldean Democratic Union Party

Chaldean National Council

1,700 0.09 0 -
Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Autonomy Assyrian Patriotic Party
Khaldu-Ashur Communist Party
1,680 0.09 0 -
Kurdistan Bright Future 1,001 0.05 0 -
Ayshkhan Sargsian Independent Armenian 0.05 0 -
Progress List 883 0.05 0 -
Iraqi Constitutional Party ICP 708 0.04 0 -
Turkmen Independent List 373 0.02 0 -
Others - - - - - 5 -
Total 1.866.264 100% 111 1,753,919 100.00 111 -
Invalid Votes - 23,067


  1. 1 2 3 MP: delaying Kurdistan constitution not ‘fair’, AK News, 2009-07-07
  2. Elections in Kurdistan: To Have or not to Have the Right to Vote, Kurdish Aspect, 2009-05-01
  3.|Campaigns of the parliamentary elections in Kurdistan region
  5. Iraq Kurdistan: EU Commission Deploys Electoral Experts, UNPO, 2009-07-01
  6. Iraq's Kurds to elect parliament on May 19, Reuters, 2009-02-02
  7. 1 2 Election campaigns begin in earnest in Kurdistan, Kurdish Globe, 2009-05-02
  8. Christians and Turkmen to hold 10 seats in parliament, KurdishGlobe, 2009-02-21
  9. Election campaigns start in Kurdistan, Kurdish Globe, 2009-05-23
  10. Change List ranked first, Four Parties second and Kurdistan List third, KurdMedia, 2009-05-12
  14. KA fined for election violations, Aswat al-Iraq, 2009-06-29
  15. 1 2 Count Your Change, Newsweek, 2009-06-24
  16. 1 2 3 Peshkewtin List says Kurdish security forces "Asayish" threaten to kill supporters of other party, eKurd, 2009-06-29
  17. AFP: Opposition set to break Iraqi Kurd stranglehold
  18. LA Times: Kurdish opposition makes strong showing in Iraq regional elections
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