May 02, 2018

Iraqi Turkmen: Demand for a Quota Seat Representation in Kurdistan Region

While endorsing the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Turkmen community and representatives are asking for a quota seat in the upcoming Iraqi elections. The quota seat is a way to enhance a fair representation within the different provinces. Other minorities joined the claim aimed at insuring a system in which each minority would have an equal voice.



This article has been published by Rûdaw:


Turkmen parties in the Kurdistan Region are asking for a quota seat after having primarily endorsed the KDP or having fielded candidates on different lists.

"The Christians have a quota [seat]. We don't have quota [seats]. That is why we need a large number of votes. We need 30,000-40,000 votes [to get a Turkmen party seat]. This many votes cannot be garnered by the Turkmen frankly. If we look at the previous elections, half of our votes have been for other parties," Majid Bazirgan, the head of the Erbil Turkmen faction in the KRG parliament, told Rudaw.

One reason why the Turkmen have asked for a quota seat is that they are very much divided in the upcoming Iraqi elections.

They have fielded five Turkmen candidates in the Kurdistan Region: the KDP fields one Turkmen candidate and there are four Turkmen candidates on Abadi’s Victory Coalition (Nasr) in Erbil.

The Turkmen People's Party today announced in a press conference in Erbil that it would endorse KDP, making it the seventh Turkmen party to do so.

"In that [KDP] list, of course there are Turkmen candidates. That candidate will serve all the components. It does not matter who the candidate is. What matters is whether the list is successful," Muna Qahwachi, a Turkmen Front MP in the Kurdistan Parliament, told Rudaw.

The Turkmen community is well established with 40,000-50,000 eligible voters in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region.

"So that the votes of the Turkmen are not wasted, and so that our votes are beneficial for supporting a candidate, the Turkmen candidates in the Kurdistan Democratic Party or any other party that has a chance of success will receive our support," Mohammed Ilkhani, head of Turkmen Progress Party, told Rudaw.

There are 10 Turkmen MPs with seats currently in the Iraqi parliament — all outside of Sulaimani, Erbil, and Duhok. The Turkmen Front has 3 seats, while the rest of the Turkmen candidates are divided among Shiite lists.

In addition to the Turkmen, many minorities have demanded quotas.

Christians have a quota seat both in Erbil and Duhok. Last week, they asked for another quota seat in the Sulaimani province, though their numbers in Sulaimani are considerably less than the aforementioned provinces. They also have a seat each in Nineveh, Baghdad, and Duhok.

Hundreds of thousands of Faili Kurds in Iraq, for the first time, have been allocated one quota seat in Wasit province, angering them, as most live and work in Baghdad.

The Yezidis have one seat in Nineveh and have asked for five quota seats, which they say corresponds to their population

Also in Nineveh, the Shabaks have a minority quota seat.

The Mandaeans have the ninth minority quota seat in Iraq’s 329-member Council of Representatives.

 Photo courtesy of Marwan Ibrahim AFP