General elections are scheduled to take place in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2018 to elect both the President and Parliament. They were earlier scheduled for 1 November 2017, but were postponed by eight months. They have just been confirmed for the 30th September 2018. (Source: Rudaw, citing the PM)
Following the end of the Gulf War in 1991, a civil war, mainly between the Erbil and Dohuk-based Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Sulaymaniyah-based Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led to the establishment of two separate Kurdish regional governments. Following the reconciliation and a power-sharing agreement between KDP and PUK, and Parliamentary elections in 2005, a unified Kurdistan Regional Government was created. The joint KDP–PUK faction Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan assumed power and formed a government that was headed by Nechervan Barzani (KDP; 2006–09) and Barham Salih (PUK; 2009–12).
When former PUK official Nawshirwan Mustafa broke away to form the new Movement for Change (Gorran) party, the new party primarily hurt PUK’s electoral support in the 2009 parliamentary elections. The KDP–PUK alliance, now renamed Kurdistan List, formed a new government headed by Nechervan Barzani.
Presidential elections were due to coincide with parliamentary elections in 2013. However, in the months leading to the elections the parliament extended Massoud Barzani’s term for another two years. When the parliamentary elections were held, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) ran on separate lists for the first time since 1992. With its traditionally strong backing in Dohuk and Erbil provinces, the KDP managed to expand its plurality, while falling short of an outright majority. PUK suffered from internal conflicts during the absence of its leader Jalal Talabani, who was recovering from a stroke, and from strong competition by the Movement for Change (Gorran), which established itself as the strongest party in Sulaymaniyah, previously a major stronghold of PUK.
The provincial elections were delayed until November, and then again to 2014, when they were held in conjunction with the Iraqi parliamentary election.
In 2015, as Barzani’s term was due to expire, debates continued as to whether it should be extended further, with supporters citing the Kurdish fight against ISIS and the need for stability in the Kurdish regional government. Others have expressed concern that a continued extension of Barzani’s term could lead to a President for Life scenario. Both Kurdish politicians and observers in the area worry that the polarizing debate over the presidency will destabilize Kurdish democracy and weaken the region in its fight against the Islamic State. In July 2016, Barzani announced that he would not seek another term as president.
The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament on 24 October 2017 announced that the elections for the presidency and the parliament had been delayed by eight months. The decision was made after the electoral commission stated that the political parties had failed to register their candidates amidst the regional crisis.
Sources and Further Reading:
PM Barzani proposes KRG elections on September 30
Iraq’s Kurdistan Region to Hold Elections on Sept. 30: Rudaw Citing PM
Iraqi Kurdistan parliament delays presidential elections by eight months
Kurdistan to take path of independence if Iraqi partnership fails: Kurdish official