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Oct 21 2018

Pro-independence ruling party comes in first in Iraqi Kurdistan polls

The government of Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region announced on Sunday that the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) came first in a parliamentary election and is slated to take the helm in the next administration, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

The election follows Baghdad’s severe response to the 2017 independence referendum by the Kurdistan Region Government (KRG) including a military campaign to retake much of the “disputed areas”, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, that had been under Kurdish control since the emergence of ISIS in 2014, as well as shutting down the two international airports in Erbil and Sulaimani.

The KDP won 45 seats in the 111-seat parliament, 12 short of an outright majority while its current junior coalition party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), came in second place with 21 seats, signalling a continued sharing of power in line with the last three decades.

Gorran, the region’s largest opposition party, secured 12 seats while accusing the PUK and KDP of vote-rigging and fraud, Deutsche Welle said.

The  September 30 vote results were delayed for three weeks following an investigation due to over 1000 complaints about electoral violations.

The KDP was behind a low-turnout independence referendum last year in which a majority of voters cast a ballot in favor of independence from Iraq's central government, which the Baghdad administration did not recognise.