Promoting Inclusive Governance for Youth and Women in Iraq

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June 14, 2022

The nascent system of governance in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) was birthed by a long struggle for autonomy and legitimacy, and has, to a large extent, been shaped by an often-herculean effort to maintain both in the face of persistent existential threat. At the center of this system is an uneasy partnership, intermittently devolving into an acrimonious rivalry, between the two dominant political parties: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Rather than contributing to robust and sustainable patterns of bipartisan collaboration, a series of power-sharing agreements signed since the Iraqi Kurdish Civil War have served to institutionalize party divisions and reinforce party dominance over the economic, military, media, and political apparatuses in their respective areas of influence (ICG, 2019; Jongerden, 2019; Van Veen & Al-Shadeedi, 2018). Unfortunately, the competitive and clientelist relations spawned by this two-party duopoly have consolidated power in the hands of the political elite, resulting in “mediocre governance” and a dearth of strong, accountable public institutions (ICG, 2019; Jongerden, 2019; Petkova, 2018; Van Veen & Al-Shadeedi, 2018). Many policy analysts now concur that it is time for Kurdistan’s current governance system, rooted in reactive nationalism and the struggle for liberation, to recalibrate, directing its energies inward in order to secure a sustainable future for the region as a whole (Benaim, 2018; Golpy, 2017; Salih & Fantappie, 2019; Van Veen & Al-Shadeedi, 2018).

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