Code: 673996 A

Kurds began voting in a parliamentary election in their semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq on Sunday, a year after a failed bid for independence.

With opposition parties weak, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are likely to extend their almost three decades of sharing power.

Splits within the PUK present the possibility that Masoud Barzani’s KDP will take a dominant position in Kurdish politics, both in the regional capital Erbil and in the difficult formation of a federal government in Baghdad.

The PUK and the Erbil-based Barzani’s KDP together form a dynastic duopoly predicated on patronage in the regions they respectively control. But years of stagnant politics, unpaid salaries and corruption have undermined faith in politics and shrunk the turnout in recent elections.

There are 111-seats up for grabs in Sunday’s election, including 11 reserved for ethnic minorities.

But most major parties say they do not expect more than about 40 percent of the 3.85 million registered voters to go to the polls. Polls will close at 6pm. Preliminary results are expected within 72 hours.

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Iraqi Kurdistan
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