Category Archives: Iraq

Iraq 2010

The final results of the Iraqi legislative elections held on March 7 in Iraq were announced by the nation’s electoral commission. According to the final official results, the Iraqi National Movement led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has narrowly defeated the State of Law Coalition led by incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The National Iraqi Alliance which includes former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari comes in a rather distant third. Turnout was 62.4%, higher turnout in Sunni areas and lower turnout in Shi’a areas.

The Iraqi National Movement, commonly known as al-Iraqiya is led by former secular Shiite Prime Minister Ayad Allawi but includes most Sunni parties and could be considered as an alliance of Allawi’s secular elements and the various Sunni movements. Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition is largely Shiite-led and based, though it does not include clerical Shi’a movements. These movements, such as the Sadrist party, are members of the National Iraqi Alliance which includes other Shi’a parties and whose major leaders include Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. In Kurdistan, the race was between the Kurdistan List, which includes the two traditional organizations which dominate Kurdish politics: the KDP and PUK. Against them was aligned the Movement for Change, a reformist party led by former members of the PUK and which won nearly 25% of the vote in last year’s Kurdish elections. Two smaller Islamic movements also contested the election in Kurdistan.

Here are the results announced by the electoral commission:

Iraqi National Movement (al-Iraqiya) 25.87% winning 91 seats (+55)
State of Law Coalition 25.76% winning 89 seats (+76)
National Iraqi Alliance 19.43% winning 70 seats (-47)
Kurdistan List 15.27% winning 43 seats (-10)
Movement for Change 4.36% winning 8 seats (+8)
Unity Alliance of Iraq 2.9% winning 4 seats (+4)
Iraqi Accord Front 2.72% winning 6 seats (-38)
Kurdistan Islamic Union 2.27% winning 4 seats (-1)
Islamic Group of Kurdistan 1.41% winning 2 seats (-1)
Minorities 8 seats (+8)

I haven’t found regional results (yet), but it seems that Allawi’s list led in the more Sunni areas (Anbar, Diyala, Salah ad-Din and Ninawa), while the National Iraqi Alliance led in 3 Shi’a governorates (Maysan, Dhi Qar, Al-Qadisiyyah) and the Kurdistan List was ahead in the three Kurdish governorates plus the divided Kirkuk governorate. The State of Law Coalition leads elsewhere, all in Shi’a areas, and also in the centres of Baghdad and Basra (as well as Najaf and Karbala).

While the UN and US have accepted the results of the election, Maliki has not yet accepted his loss and has called for a manual recount of votes, something which the UN does not want. The results need to be approved by the judiciary, which would take weeks, and the next step will be to build a shaky coalition. Furthermore, with the US troops due to be out of the country in five months’ time, it will be hard for there to be a peaceful and calm transition if the results are contested or if coalition-building takes a long time.

Election Preview: Iraq 2010

Iraq’s 325-member Council of Representatives is up for re-election on March 7, the second elections for that chamber since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the third parliamentary elections since Saddam’s fall (there were elections in January 2005 for a Constituent Assembly, an election boycotted by Sunni voters).

The main lines in Iraqi politics are religious lines, with three major groups: the Shi’a coalition, the Sunni coalition and a Kurdish coalition. There are also smaller secular parties, but the fact of the matter is that Iraqi elections are played on strict sectarian cleavages. The country’s Shi’a majority dominated the Constituent Assembly and got a constitution passed with little Sunni support, and they obviously dominate elections.

Here are the main coalitions ahead of the vote:

Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, the leader of the old Islamic Dawa Party, has organized his supporters in the State of Law Coalition, the same which won the 2009 governorate elections by a good margin. The State of Law Coalition remains quasi-exclusively Shi’a, despite past attempts to bring various Sunni groupings such as the Awakening movements in the coalition. One could consider Maliki’s coalition as the most pro-American Shi’a coalition.

The Shi’a parties contested the 2005 elections united under the name of the United Iraqi Alliance, but Maliki’s Dawa Party has left the coalition. The coalition for the 2010 elections includes the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) and the Sadrist Movement led by Shi’a cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr. In addition, the coalition has been joined by former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and his outfit. The SIIC lost control of its traditional base in Basra to Al-Maliki’s coalition in the 2009 elections, the SIIC administration there having been particularly inept.

The main Sunni coalition in the 2005 elections, the Iraqi Accord Front, has been hit hard by defections, notably the Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest component of the coalition. A number of Sunni voters have probably shifted their support to the Iraqi National Movement. The Iraqi National Movement includes some secular movements such as that led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi (who is a Shi’ite, but was originally involved in the pre-Saddam Baath Party) but also the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, a major Sunni alliance which decided in the end not to boycott the elections (because the INDF’s leader was banned from standing due to past association with Saddam’s Baath Party).

Politics in Iraqi Kurdistan have historically been dominated by two major parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Both parties have formed a rather solid alliance both at the regional level and national level, now known as the Kurdistani List. However, the stranglehold of both parties was weakened in the 2009 regional election, when a reformist coalition led mostly by PUK dissidents won a quarter of the votes. While the KDP-PUK wanted the reformists and the Kurd Islamists to join their coalition, both refused.

The Awakening movement, which is strong in Sunni Al-Anbar, have formed a coalition with other parties known as “Iraq’s Unity”. The coalition is led by Jawad Al-Bulani, a Shi’a.

For reference, here are the 2005 results:

United Iraqi Alliance 41.2% winning 128 seats
Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan 21.7% winning 53 seats
Iraqi Accord Front 15.1% winning 44 seats
Iraqi National List 8% winning 25 seats
Iraqi National Dialogue Front 4.1% winning 11 seats
Kurdistan Islamic Union 1.3% winning 5 seats
Others 9 seats (including 1 Turkmen, 1 Assyrian and 1 Yazidi)

The map can double up as a religious map of Iraq, although the division of the Sunni parties in 2005 (IAF and INDF) hides stronger overall ‘Sunni results’ in areas such as Salah ad Din.

Unlike the closed list PR elections in 2005, the 2010 elections will be under an open list. Furthermore, the legislature’s size will grow from 275 in 2005 to 325. All governorates will gain at least one seat, but the ‘compensatory seats’ (seats allocated to those parties whose national share of the vote isn’t reflected in the seats won at the governorate level) will drop significantly from 45 to 7, with an additional 8 new seats reserved to minorities, including Iraqi Christians (Assyrians). The vote of Iraqis abroad, originally due to be counted in the compensatory seats will be counted in the governorate where they last lived.

It’s hard to predict the outcome of this election, especially because the very strict sectarian divides of the 2005 elections have subsided a bit and the main sectarian coalitions have split. Al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition is probably favoured, and Allawi’s coalition is probably his biggest rival followed closely by the SIIC-Sadrist coalition. While no major party has announced a boycott, turnout is apparently supposed to be lower than in 2005.

A referendum on the Iraq-US Status of Forces Agreement is also scheduled. The SOFA includes the withdrawal of all US troops by the end of 2011.

Iraq Provincial 2009

Elections are being held in 14 of Iraq’s 18 governorates (or provinces) today, the first election since 2005. There is no election in the three governorates of Iraqi Kurdistan (Arbil, Dahuk, As Sulaymaniyah) and in Kirkuk governorate, where a referendum on the governorates’ status keeps getting postponed and postponed.

Elections are by open party list, with a quota for women and minorities (3 Christians, 1 each for Yazidis, Mandean, and Shabak). The Sunni parties, which boycotted the past election in 2005, are running this time and should drastically increase turnout in the Sunni areas (Al-Anbar, Salah ad Din), which are currently ruled by Shia and Kurdish governments which lack popular support. Turnout was something like 2% in Al-Anbar in 2005.

The election in Shia areas is to be fought between current PM Nouri-al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa Party (Shia conservatives, favouring a centralized Iraq) and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (pro-Iran Islamists, favouring a federal Iraq with a huge Shia region), both government parties. The opposition Sadrists (those allowed to run) is also expected to provide competition, as is Iyad Allawi’s secular grouping. Al-Maliki’s Dawa is said to be favoured, and Allawi’s bloc could do well. Other say Islamist parties, sich as the SIIC, will do poorly.

In Sunni areas, the election is between the government Iraqi Accord Front (a broad coalition of Sunnis) and the tribal Awakening militias (formed to fight Al-Qaeda).

In total, around 400 parties (over 14,000 candidates) are contesting a total of 440 seats. Results are expected to take quite some time to come in.