On November 12, Arez Abdullah, head of the parliamentary bloc of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) announced that the PUK will be running in the upcoming Iraqi Parliament elections (scheduled for May 15, 2018) according to a report of the Kurdish media outlet Rudaw.
The PUK was formed in 1975 by a group of Kurdish politics who defected from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Jalal Talabani was among them. He later became the first president of Iraq after Saddam was removed. After Talabani death on October 3, 2017, his son Bafel Talabani succeeded him as the de-facto leader of the PUK.
The PUK party is very popular in western Kurdistan Region, epically in the party’s heartland, Sulaymaniyah city. Today, the party has 21 MPs in the Iraqi Parliament and only 18 in the Kurdistan Region Parliament. However, it’s still considered the second biggest Kurdish party in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the head of election office of the KDP, Khasraw Goran told Rudaw TV that the KDP may participate in the upcoming Iraqi Parliament elections but with conditions. However, Kurdish sources revealed that the KDP did register at Iraq’s Election Commission without announcing it.
“It all depends on what happens with regard to our relations with Baghdad in the coming months … If the situation gets back to normal then of course we’ll make a decision,” Goran told Rudaw TV.
The former president of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani, is known to be the de facto leader of the KDP. Moreover, Barzani’s nephew Nechirvan Barzani is the current leader of the KDP and the Kurdistan Region Government (KRG).
The KDP is known to be the strongest Kurdish party in Iraq. The party has the biggest bloc in the Kurdistan Region Parliament with 38 PMs, while it has only 25 MPs in the Iraqi Parliament.
The relationship between the PUK and the KDP has never been prefect due to the fact that the PUK was formed by defectors from the KDP. However, after the Iraqi Army was deployed in Kirkuk city the relationships between the two parties became even worse because the KDP accused the PUK of handing over Kirkuk to the Iraqi Army.
After the Kirkuk city crisis the PUK engaged in many negotiations with the Iraqi Federal Government and the two sides reached many agreements regarding the security situation in many areas in Western Kurdistan including Sulaymainyah city.
The upcoming Iraqi Parliament and Kurdistan Parliament elections might witness the growth of the PUK influence, mainly thanks to Bafel Talabani’s wise decision to negotiate with Baghdad.