Iraq president's party comes third in Kurdish polls

AFP , Wednesday 2 Oct 2013

In Kurdistan region's last parliamentary vote in 2009, KDP and PUK ran on same list and finished first

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's party finished third behind an opposition movement in the autonomous Kurdish region's parliamentary polls, shaking a decades-long duopoly on power, according to final results released Wednesday.

Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdish region president Massud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party have long dominated politics in the three-province region in northern Iraq.

But while the KDP came first with 38 seats, the opposition Goran movement claimed 24 seats to finish second ahead of the PUK, which obtained 18, according to results announced at a news conference in the regional capital Arbil.

As no party won an absolute majority in the 111-member Kurdish legislature, a coalition government will be formed.

In the Kurdistan region's last parliamentary vote in 2009, the KDP and PUK ran on the same list and finished first, while Goran, a breakaway faction of Talabani's party, came second.

The PUK has faced increasingly tough competition from Goran as well as Islamist and Communist groupings in its home base of Sulaimaniyah -- challenges exacerbated by the prolonged absence of Talabani, who has been in Germany recovering from a stroke since the end of last year.

The election campaign ahead of the September 21 vote centred on calls for more to be done to fight corruption and improve the delivery of basic services, as well as on how the energy-rich region's oil revenues should be spent.

Iraqi Kurdistan enjoys a high level of autonomy from Baghdad, and the regional parliament has passed laws on a wide range of issues.

Kurdistan also operates its own security forces and visa regime.

While the region is usually spared the bloody violence that plagues other areas of Iraq, militants attacked the headquarters of the asayesh security service in Arbil on September 29, killing seven people and wounding more than 60.

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