The Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan dominate the political scene in the Kurdish region. Both parties had announced they would compete in the July 25 election under the unified Kurdish List in an effort to maintain political dominance.
Opponents point to a political climate run by the two parties as one tainted with corruption and self-interest, opening the door for challengers from rival lists to emerge.
Hadi Ali, who leads the rival Kurdistan Islamic Union, says the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq needs a viable opposition to eliminate shortfalls in the Kurdish Parliament, where he says corruption is rampant, Niqash, a Web site analyzing Iraqi political affairs, reports.
Meanwhile, the opposition Change List hopes to unseat the PUK and the KDP while members of the Social Justice and Freedom List hope for modest gains in the election, promising to bring transparency to the government in Erbil.
The Kurdish provinces -- Erbil, Dahuk and Sulaimaniya -- were set for a May 19 vote, but that date was pushed back as lawmakers wrangled over election laws. The July 25 vote is for parliamentary positions as well as the KRG presidency, with provincial elections set for January.
Challengers for the 111 open seats come from 42 separate political entities, with 11 seats reserved for ethnic and religious minorities.
A quota established by the KRG sets aside 30 percent of the seats for female candidates.