Professor Watts: Why Did Some Voters in Iraq Stay Home During Last week's Referendum?

Friday, October 06, 2017
Photo of Kurdish residents in Iraq celebrating Kurdish New Year

WASHINGTON POST -- Nicole F. Watts is a professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University. She wrote this opinion piece for the Washington Post.

“Critics of Barzani were loath to support what they saw as a partisan maneuver likely to legitimate his authority and further consolidate his Kurdistan Democratic Party’s grip on power, which has tightened since the closure of the Kurdistan regional parliament in late 2015,” Watts writes.

“The 111-seat parliament did hastily reconvene 10 days before the referendum, approving it 65 to 3. However, the Sulaimani-based opposition party Gorran — the second most successful party in the 2013 Kurdistan regional election — boycotted, as did the Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal), calling the vote and the referendum ‘unlawful.’ A third of the lawmakers in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the traditional power in Sulaimani and rival-turned-junior-partner of the KDP, also stayed away.”

Photo by Sargeant Dennis Gravelle/U.S. Army