The local federal regions of northern Syria led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and it’s allies held elections this Friday for the first time for the federal region of northern Syria with a high turn-out.
However, a Kurdish rival, the Kurdish National Council (KNC) backed by the Kurdish president Masoud Barzani called for a boycott last Thursday. Furthermore, the Syrian government has rejected the elections.
Kurds, Arabs, and Christians are picking leaders for some 3,700 communes that will self-rule neighbourhoods in towns and villages. There was no election campaign, but in the future election campaigns will be held in elections that will take place for local councils in November, and for the assembly that will act like a parliament in January next year.
However, the KNC, backed by Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), claimed it was an attempt to deflect away attention from the independence referendum planned for the 25th of September in Iraqi Kurdistan. The PYD rejected these accusations.
“The insistence of the Democratic Union (PYD) to hold its one-sided elections at this particular time is a blatant challenge to the will of our Kurdish people in Syria's Kurdistan and a clear attempt to deflect attention from the referendum,” the KNC said.
The KNC claimed that several of their leaders were arrested last week ahead of pro-referendum rally in the Kurdish majority town of Qamislo. However, supporters of the PYD posted pictures of the local authorities protecting the pro-referendum rally.
In response, the KNC called on the Kurdish people in northern Syria to boycott the commune elections. So far, despite the call for a boycott, there was a high turn-out in several Kurdish cities in the morning.
The PYD-affiliated Democratic Society Movement (TEV-DEM) in response rejected the statement, suggesting the decision to hold commune elections was taken during the third meeting of the Constituent Council of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria on 27 and 28 July. “This was before the announcement of the date of the referendum,” TEV-DEM said.
“The Democratic Society Movement (TEV-DEM) considers the statement of the Kurdish National Council an instrument of treachery and open hostility towards the gains of the Kurdish people in Syria and in general the people of the north,” TEV-DEM said.
TEV-DEM blamed the KNC for rejecting the elections during the time that the Syrian central government also rejected the elections. In response TEV-DEM called on the people in northern Syria to go to the ballot box. “We call upon our people in all of it’s different cultures, affiliations, parties to go to the polls and exercise their rights,” the movement said.
So far, the PYD and the KNC have not been able to share power in northern Syria, and have been working against each other after the failure of the last Duhok agreement in October 2014 and agreements to share power before this in Erbil.
This despite the fact that both agree that federalism is the future for northern Syria.
The only difference is that the KNC wants a geographic federal Kurdistan region of Syria, and the PYD wants a multi-ethnic non-geographic federal region for northern Syria.
“The federation of northern Syria is not only for the Kurds, but also for all the components of the Arabs and the Syriacs and it is based on a democratic basis,” Abdulkarim Omer, the head of foreign relations for Cezire Canton told the Region.