Northern Syria local elections, 2017
The first local elections in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, now called the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), were held on September, 22nd 2017. Representatives of 3,700 communes in the regions of the Northern Syria Federation are to be selected in the election, involving 12,421 candidates. The communal elections on September 22nd will be followed by elections of local councils in December and a federal parliamentary election of the People’s Democratic Council, the region’s highest governing body in January 2018. Several areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces are excluded from the election, including the cities of Manbij and Raqqa.
Between July 27th and 28th 2017, a conference of the Syrian Democratic Council was held in the town of Rmelan. During the conference, the system of 3 cantons in northern Syria was changed to 3 federal regions, which are the Jazira Region, the Euphrates Region, and the Afrin Region, which includes the Shahba province. Dates of planned elections were also devised during the meeting, with 22 September being the date for communal elections, 3 November for municipal elections, and 19 January 2018 for the People’s Assembly of Federal Regions and the People’s Democratic Council, the highest governing body for the Federation of Northern Syria. Officials who organized the elections included Hediya Yousef and Îlham Ehmed, two senior officials in the government of the de facto federal region.
The election was chiefly organized by the High Electoral Commission (Arabic: المفوضية العليا للانتخابات; Kurdish: Komseriya Bilind Ya Hilbijartinan; Classical Syriac: ܦܩܝܕܳܝܘܬ݂ܐ ܥܠܝܬܐ ܕܓܘܒܳܝ̈ܐ) of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria which launched a promotional campaign in order to encourage voting in the election which included online promotional advertisement on Facebook and Twitter and the release of a promotional song in Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac for the election.
The cities of Manbij and Raqqa were excluded, as they have local councils independent from the Northern Syria Federation, and Raqqa was only fully captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces on 22 September 2017, the date of the first local elections. Both men and women are involved in the elections, with the SDC planning to have women hold 50% of positions.
The elections officially began at 8 a.m. in the morning of 22 September, with thousands of people participating, including Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, and others.
Security during the elections was maintained by the Asayish police, the Anti-Terror Forces (HAT) and the Society Protection Forces (HPC). In cities and towns with Assyrian populations, such as Qamishli, the Sutoro police also provided security during the elections.
The elections in the Jazeera and Euphrates regions ended on 8 p.m. that day, while elections in the Afrin Region were extended by two hours.
728,450 votes representing 70% of eligible voters were reported to have been cast in total, with 437,142 from the Jazira Region, 135,611 from the Euphrates Region and 155,697 from the Afrin Region.
The Raqqa Civil Council and leaders of 5 tribes in and around Raqqa announced their support for the elections.
Northern Syria regional elections, 2017
The first regional elections in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria were held on 1 December 2017. Local councils for the Jazira Region, Euphrates Region and Afrin Region were elected as well as for the subordinate provinces, areas and districts of the three regions. This follows the communal elections that were held on 22 September and will be followed by a federal parliamentary election of the Syrian Democratic Council, the region’s highest governing body in January 2018.
The election was chiefly organized by the High Electoral Commission (Arabic: المفوضية العليا للانتخابات; Kurdish: Komseriya Bilind Ya Hilbijartinan; Classical Syriac: ܦܩܝܕܳܝܘܬ݂ܐ ܥܠܝܬܐ ܕܓܘܒܳܝ̈ܐ) of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria.
Over 30 parties and entities with more than 5600 candidates competed for posts in the local councils of the three regions of the DFNS as well as for the region’s subordinate provinces, areas and districts. There were 3048 candidates in the Jazira Region with 102 candidates rejected by the Electoral Commission, 1170 candidates in the Euphrates Region with 4 candidates rejected and 1502 candidates in the Afrin Region with 48 candidates rejected. The Kurdish National Council (KNC) boycotted the elections, as it considered the participation of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in them as unilateral.
Parties and Electoral lists
There were two main electoral lists competing in the election, the Democratic Nation List (Arabic: قائمة الأمة الديمقراطية; Kurdish: Lîsta Netewa Demokratîk; Classical Syriac: ܩܝܡܬܐ ܕܐܘܡܬܐ ܕܝܡܩܪܛܝܬܐ) which consists of 18 parties, and the Kurdish National Alliance in Syria (Arabic: التحالف الوطني الكردي في سوريا; Kurdish: Hevbendiya Niştimanî a Kurdî li Sûriyê) in Syria which consists of 4 parties. In addition to these two electoral alliances, the Syrian National Democratic Alliance was also running. There was also a separate list of independent candidates.
The Democratic Nation List includes the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Modernity and Democracy Party of Syria (PNDS), Arab National Coalition, Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (Abdul Karim Sko), Green Party of Kurdistan (Al-Khader Kurdistan Party), Liberal Union of Kurdistan, Syriac Union Party, Kurdish Left Party in Syria (PCKS), Kurdistan Democratic Change Party (PGDK), Kurdistan Renewal Movement, Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party, Democratic Peace Party of Kurdistan (PADK), Assyrian Democratic Party, National Rally of Kurdistan Party (PKNK), Free Patriotic Union of Syria (PYNAS), Democratic Conservative Party, Sun Party of Kurdistan (Roj Kurdish Party) and the Kurdish Brotherhood Party.
The Kurdish National Alliance in Syria includes the Kurdish Democratic Unity Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî – PYDKS), Kurdish Democratic Left Party in Syria (PCDKS), Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (al-Party – PKDS) and Syrian Kurdish Democratic Accord (Rêkeftin – al-Wefaq Party). The Syrian Reform Movement (TCKS) was originally a fifth member of the alliance that split from the Kurdish National Council party of the same name.
The turnout was reported to be 69% of eligible voters.
Jazira Region (A total of 2,902 seats)
- Democratic Nation List: 93,66%, 2,718 seats (out of 2,902 candidates running).
- Kurdish National Alliance in Syria: 1,38%, 40 seats (out of 99 candidates running).
- Independents: 4,96%, 144 seats (out of 267 candidates running).
Euphrates Region (A total of 954 seats)
- Democratic Nation List: 88,78%, 847 seats (out of 954 candidates running).
- Kurdish Democratic Unity Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî – PYDKS): 4,19%, 40 seats (out of 124 candidates running).
- Independents: 7,02%, 67 seats (out of 95 candidates running).
Afrin Region (A total of 1,176 seats)
- Democratic Nation List: 89,80%, 1,056 seats (out of 1,175 candidates running).
- Kurdish Democratic Unity Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî – PYDKS): 6,12%, 72 seats (out of 197 candidates running).
- Syrian National Democratic Alliance: 0,68%, 8 seats (out of 48 candidates running).
- Independents: 3,40%, 40 seats (out of 86 candidates running).
The invasion and occupation of the Afrin Region by Turkey in January 2018 have delayed further elections.