Christians, Yazidis, Kakais, Shabaks and other minorities in Nineveh, Iraq are struggling to gain political representation as the electoral campaigns get under way.
Religious and ethnic minorities in the Nineveh Plains region of northern Iraq have expressed their fear that they will not be truly represented in the upcoming elections, which are scheduled to be held in May 2018.
The quota system set in the Iraqi Constitution determines a specific number of seats that each sect and ethnic minority group can compete for. The , a religious minority in Nineveh, only have two seats allocated to them in the Parliament. As a result, many coalitions and electoral lists have enlisted Yazidi politicians in their blocs in order to receive the Yazidi vote.
“By observing the current candidates’ lists [and blocs] we think that this minority group will be aggrieved,” said an Yazidi man. “Two Yazidi rival political parties are competing for this seat…this will enter the Yazidis in a futile competition”.
Some claim that the enlistment of minorities in these blocs is merely an attempt to control the limited seats that these minorities have received due to the quota system. Observers say that these parties are only seeking electoral gains and are disregarding the realities that these minorities live in.
After the invasion of ISIS in 2014, minorities across northern Iraq were subjected to killing, oppression and displacement resulting in their dispersal to different areas.
Although Iraqi Security Forces liberated their towns and cities by the end of 2017, the absence of services has delayed the return of many displaced minorities. Eventually, many within these minorities joined blocs and political entities in the cities they were displaced in. This resulted in candidates being conflicted whether to try to gain to influence in their own regions or within the central government, leaving their minorities feeling under-represented.
Within the district of Hamdaniya, 10 Christian villages still remain empty of residents. Their absence in these elections will change that area’s social make-up which, many fear, will reduce its original inhabitants’ political representation in government.