Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

Baghdad, Iraq – Almost three months after October elections, the newly elected Iraqi parliament is scheduled to meet for the first time following an election cycle that was uncertain and messy even by Iraq’s standards.

Traditionally, the first parliamentary session would be given the task of electing a speaker of parliament and its two deputies. Yet, according to the agenda released by the House of Representatives, Sunday’s sitting will only include “nominations of the Speaker and two Deputies,” suggesting a possible non-confirmation as to who the speaker will be.

The Electoral Commission informed Representative Mahmoud al-Mashhadani that he is the oldest member of parliament and will chair the first sitting, in accordance with the constitution.

This process, according to analysts, will be anything but smooth: no political party has garnered enough support to be able to swing on its own where Iraqi politics are headed in the next four years.

The early elections – which had the lowest turnout since the political system was established after the United States-led invasion in 2003, by just 44 percent – pushed Muqtada al-Sadr, a top Shiite leader whose policies are built on his firm rejection of any foreign presence in Iraq, to ​​a landslide victory with 73 of the 329 seats.

It also took a humiliating blow to the Fateh alliance, which hosts the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) paramilitary group. With only 17 seats, the organization will see a drastic decrease in representation compared to the outgoing parliament.

In the months leading up to the first parliamentary session, Iraq’s political landscape was dominated by meeting after meeting between different parties trying to form a government that would advance their respective interests, interspersed with constant backgrounds. claims of fraud and threats to boycott the entire election results.

The dust has generally settled after the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court upheld the final result of the election at the end of December last year, with only a few changes to the preliminary results, although the remaining tensions over the election results could continue for months. coming government touch. formation.

Al-Sadr, which has won the largest share in part because of its carefully calibrated campaign strategy to use the new electoral law to its advantage, has strongly insisted on a majority government that would essentially replace the Fateh alliance and former prime minister. Nouri al-Maliki on the opposition side.

“I see that the first thing that needs to be done for the future for the country is a national majority government,” al-Sadr said in a statement shortly after the election results were certified.

The phrase, “neither Eastern nor Western” initially advocated by him after the preliminary results were announced, was frequently tossed around in his political story, rhetorically rejecting foreign influence and hoping to establish a majority government. But it has yet to be translated into concrete terms in the process of government formation.

The Shia Coordination Framework, a group made up of al-Maliki’s State of Law, Fateh alliance and their allies, remains reluctant to send the next government to a Sadr-led majority government and continues to push for a consensus government .

In this arduous complex negotiation process, almost every conceivable meeting has taken place. Meetings also took place across the country, from Baghdad to Najaf to Erbil. Despite the seemingly endless rounds of talks between political parties, no agreement was reached.

“Iraq’s political divisions make it difficult for a majority government to be elected and since no party has ever won an absolute majority, coalition building is needed, whether to create a majority government or a national consensus government,” Hamzeh Hadad said. An Iraqi political and economic analyst recently wrote.

A long process of government formation that ultimately alienates the very voters who participated in the elections is not news in Iraq.

In previous elections after the 2003 invasion, the negotiation processes that led to a new government all took months, often accompanied by violence. And almost without exception, the ruling elite rocked within themselves, and Iraq continued to suffer from corruption, violence, and a general lack of effective governance.

“Government formation is when the political system in Iraq is stress tested to confirm its resilience and when the worse outcomes of consensus, sectarianism and compromise combine to bring a weak, inefficient and inevitably corrupt and incoherent government to power,” Sajad Jiyad, a fellow at the Century Foundation, posted on social media.

Insecurity

That lack of consensus will soon be addressed directly as the first parliamentary session convenes to elect the speaker. Uncertainty remains between Sunni parties.

“To date, there is no agreement between Sunni’s Taqadum and al-Azim,” said Kamaran Palani, a research fellow at the Middle East Research Institute, referring to the two largest Sunni parties.

“[Mohammed] Halbousi has the majority within Sunnis, but that is not enough, as Sunni parties also need the blessing of large Shiite forces. “Halbousi is not supported by the framework and Sadr is flexible.”

The uncertainty surrounding the nomination of the speaker of parliament extends to two other presidencies: the president, who is reserved for Kurds, and the prime minister, a Shia. Similarly, their respective political groups have not yet reached an agreement.

No name has come close to being widely believed to claim the premiership, and tensions continue to grow as al-Sadr insists on a Sadrist candidate and the Shia framework remains determined to get a candidate out of their bloc. name.

“The country has for the most part had a weak prime minister leading the state, as they emerge from a weak political foundation, either as a compromise candidate from within, or a compromise candidate brought in,” Hadad explained the problems which lies ahead for Iraqi politics, especially with regard to ordinary Iraqis’ confidence in the system.

“Unfortunately, this will further increase the frustration of the Iraqi people whose calls to vote for their commander-in-chief have grown.”

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