The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, or PDKI, held its 16th Congress in late February 2018 in an undisclosed location in Kurdistan. In spite of threats from the Iranian Islamist regime, PDKI managed to hold a successful congress.
The 16th Congress may be described as a turning-point in the history of PDKI in that it resulted in an overhaul of the structure of the party, a separation the Peshmerga Forces from the political branch, and long-term commitment to increase the number of women in decision-making bodies as well as among the Peshmerga.
PDKI’s party structure, adopted in the early 1970s, had for years become obsolete. The previous party structure consisted of a central committee and a politburo. The Central Committee appointed the members of the Politburo and the Secretary-General.
The overhaul package adopted at the 16th Congress is centered on separation of powers and checks and balances. The Central Committee and the Politburo have been abolished. Instead, the policy-making and executive branches of the party have been neatly separated. Meanwhile, the party leader is elected by the delegates at the party’s congress – which is the highest organ – rather than by any other organ.
A new organ called the Policy-Making Center has the power to either accept or reject the party leader’s proposed appointments to the Executive Branch of the party. There will be greater emphasis on meritocracy in appointing party officials.
The Congress also decided to continue Rasan, which is the party’s policy of intertwining civil resistance with the presence of Peshmerga Forces among the civilian population.
The PDKI, founded in 1945, has only held two of its congresses under conditions not marked by war or threats of terrorist attacks from the Iranian state; namely, the First Congress which preceded the establishment of the Republic of Kurdistan in 1946 and the Fourth Congress in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution in Iran.
Following the fall of the Republic of Kurdistan in 1946, the top leadership of PDKI, including President Ghazi Mohammad, were executed by the Iranian state. The party was subsequently forced underground and later into exile. It was in the Third Congress in 1973 that a new party structure was adopted. In spite of war and terrorist threats from Iran, the party has held 16 congresses thus far.
The PDKI’s Asaysh Forces managed to foil Iranian terrorist attacks against the 16th Congress.