Saturday, March 27, 2010

Allawi Wins Iraq’s Election, But Does It Matter?

Iraq’s Election Commission has finally released the seat distribution in the new parliament. Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi came out in first place with 91 seats, followed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law with 89 seats. The National Alliance of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) and the Sadrists got 70 seats, and the Kurdish Alliance of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) received 43, Those four were the major lists, which will be behind any new government. After them were the minor parties, including the Kurdish opposition groups, the Change List with 8 seats, the Kurdistan Islamic Union with 4 seats, and the Kurdistan Islamic Group with 2 seats. The Accordance Front finished with only 6 seats, after being a major player in 2005, plus Interior Minister Jawad Bolani’s Unity of Iraq list got 4 seats. There were five seats set aside for Christians in Baghdad, Dohuk, Irbil, Ninewa, and Tamim. Three went to the Rafidain List, while the other two went to the Council of the Kildani People. The winning parties for the three other minority seats have not been released yet.

Allawi proved to be a much better national candidate then Maliki. In the four provinces with mainly Sunni Arab voters, Anbar, Diyala, Ninewa, and Salahaddin, he received 47 of 76 seats, 61% of the total. While Allawi is a Shiite, he ran on a nationalist, secular agenda, and most of his list were Sunnis. In the mixed provinces of Baghdad he got 24 of 68 seats, 35%, almost matching Maliki, while in Tamim he had a surprising tie with the Kurdish Alliance, gaining 6 of 12 seats there. In the Shiite south, Allawi’s list was able to garner 17 of 119 seats, for 14%. Allawi obviously did better in central and northern Iraq than the south, but that was a better showing than Maliki nationally. He only got 1 of 76 seats in Sunni areas, with one seat in Diyala. In Baghdad he bettered Allawi by only two seats, with 26. Southern Shiites were his main base where he got 60 of 119 seats. Maliki might not have done as well in Sunni areas because of his backing of the Accountability and Justice Commission’s banning of candidates before the election for alleged Baathist ties, which angered many Sunnis.

In the end, none of that may matter. The new parliament will next select a speaker and president, and then the latter will ask the leader of the largest list to try to form a new government. The Federal Supreme Court however, just ruled that parties can continue to form alliances until a president is named. That means Maliki could put together a new coalition with his State of Law that surpasses the National Movement’s 91, and then he would have the first shot at forming a government, despite Allawi finishing ahead of him in the vote.

Even before this latest development Allawi was looking at a difficult time cobbling together a ruling coalition. Moqtada al-Sadr for example, has come out against Maliki returning to power, which means he could be open to working with Allawi. The Sadrists also received around 40 seats out of the National Alliance’s 70, making them a powerful bloc equal to the Kurdish Alliance. The Sadr Trend has also collaborated with Allawi’s Iraqi National List in parliament. However, Shiite parties and leaders in the south have been portraying Allawi as being a Baathist sympathizer that will allow former regime elements back into power, which would make it hard for Sadr’s rank and file agreeing to an alliance. Allawi faces another problem if he wanted to talk to the Kurds. They are asking for guarantees on Article 140 that lays out how the disputed territories like Kirkuk will be annexed. Members of Allawi’s List such as parliamentarian Osama al-Nujafi have said they will oppose any compromises on the disputed areas. Not only that, but members of the Kurdish Alliance have said that Nujafi and others in Allawi’s list are Baathists and anti-Kurdish. That hasn’t stopped Allawi from traveling to Kurdistan two times to meet with Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani since the March 7 election. Last, Maliki and Allawi both want to be prime minister. That personal rivalry excludes the two from joining forces at this time. At 91 seats, the National Movement needs 72 to reach the 163 necessary for a government. It would be impossible for Allawi to get to that mark without bringing in one to two of the three major lists mentioned above.

Maliki on the other hand, seems to have an advantage in winning over at least a few parties to his side. First, despite a series of clashes with the Prime Minister in 2008 and 2009, the Kurdish Alliance has said that they want to stay in power with State of Law. Second, Maliki’s Dawa and the Supreme Council have begun talking about a merger. State of Law, the Kurdish Alliance, and the other members of the National Alliance besides the Sadrists would account for 162 seats. Maliki would only have to bring in one more minor party such as the Accordance Front or Unity of Iraq to gain a majority in parliament, and to give some Sunnis representation within his government. That would be a major weakness in his government however, since Sunnis overwhelmingly came out for Allawi.

For Maliki, the real issue is whether he can return to power. There are increasing rumors that parties will join with his State of Law, but only if he is not named as prime minister. That may be the reason why the Sadrists have come out against a second term for Maliki. They still want the Shiite parties to come together, just not with Maliki as their leader. Two members of the National Alliance separately told reporters that all the parties in the list would join with the State of Law, even the Sadrists, but only if Maliki stepped down. Ironically, that may be the price for the State of Law to maintain its leading position within the government, which is to sacrifice Maliki since he has simply made too many enemies in his last few years in office.

The next several weeks and months will be taken up by this arduous process of putting together a new ruling coalition. Both Allawi and Maliki have warts on them that will make it hard for them to find friends. The Prime Minister has the upper hand however right now. The reason why might have been best summed up by a member of the KDP who said that they had to choose better the bad, Maliki, and the worse, Allawi. Given that dilemma, the Prime Minister appears to be the lesser of two evils. Since Maliki needs them more than they need him however, their price may be him not remaining in power.

Seats In Parliament By Party
National Movement 91 seats, 28%
State of Law 89 seats, 27%
National Alliance 70 seats, 21%
Kurdish Alliance 43 seats, 13%
Change List 8 seats, 2%
Accordance Front 6 seats, 1%
Unity of Iraq 4 seats, 1%
Kurdistan Islamic Union 4 seats, 1%
Rafidain List 3 seats (Christian quota), 0.9%
Kurdistan Islamic Group 2 seats, 0.6%
Council of the Kildani People 2 seats (Christian quota), 0.6%
3 Minority seats yet to be announced
325 Total

Allawi vs. Maliki By Provinces and Constituencies
Allawi

Sunni Areas:
Anbar 11 of 14
Diyala 8 of 19
Ninewa 20 of 31
Salahaddin 8 of 12
Total: 47 of 76, 61%

Mixed Areas:
Baghdad 24 of 68, 35%
Tamim 6 of 12 seats, 50%

Shiite Areas:
Babil 8 of 16
Basra 3 of 24
Dhi Qar 1 of 18
Karbala 1 of 10
Qadisiyah 2 of 11
Wasit 2 of 11 seats
Total: 17 of 119, 14%

Maliki

Sunni Areas:
Diyala 1 of 19
Total: 1 of 76, 1%

Mixed Areas:
Baghdad 26 of 68, 38%

Shiite Areas:
Babil 8 of 16
Basra 14 of 24
Dhi Qar 8 of 18
Karbala 6 of 10
Muthanna 4 of 7
Maysan 4 of 10
Najaf 7 of 12
Qadisiyah 4 of 11
Wasit 5 of 11 seats
Total: 60 of 119, 50%

Seats In Parliament By Province
Anbar: 14 seats
National Movement 11 seats
Accordance Front 2 seats
Unity of Iraq 1 seat

Babil: 16 seats
State of Law 8 seats
National Alliance 5 seats
National Movement 3 seats

Baghdad: 68 seats + 1 Christian seat + 1 Sabean seat
State of Law 26 seats
National Movement 24 seats
National Alliance 17 seats
Accordance Front 1 seat

Basra: 24 seats
State of Law 14 seats
National Alliance 7 seats
National Movement 3 seats

Dohuk: 10 seats + 1 Christian seat
Kurdish Alliance 9 seats
Kurdistan Islamic Party 1 seat

Dhi Qar: 18 seats
National Alliance 9 seats
State of Law 8 seats
National Movement 1 seat

Diyala: 19 seats
National Movement 8 seats
National Alliance 3 seats
State of Law 1 seat
Kurdish Alliance 1 seat

Irbil: 14 seats + 1 Christian seat
Kurdish Alliance 10 seats
Change List 2 seats
Kurdistan Islamic Group 1 seat
Kurdistan Islamic Party 1 seat

Karbala: 10 seats
State of Law 6 seats
National Alliance 3 seats
National Movement 1 seat

Muthanna: 7 seats
State of Law 4 seats
National Alliance 3 seats

Maysan: 10 seats
National Alliance 6 seats
State of Law 4 seats

Najaf: 12 seats
State of Law 7 seats
National Alliance 5 seats

Ninewa: 31 seats + 1 Christian seat + 1 Yazidi seat + 1 Shabak seat
National Movement 20 seats
Kurdish Alliance 8 seats
National Alliance 1 seat
Accordance Front 1 seat
Unity of Iraq 1 seat

Qadisiyah: 11 seats
National Alliance 5 seats
State of Law 4 seats
National Movement 2 seats

Salahaddin: 12 seats
National Movement 8 seats
Accordance Front 2 seats
Unity of Iraq 2 seats

Tamim: 12 seats + 1 Christian seat
National Movement 6 seats
Kurdish Alliance 6 seats

Wasit: 11 seats
State of Law 5 seats
National Alliance 4 seats
National Movement 2 seats

Compensatory Seats: 7 seats
National Movement 2 seats
State of Law 2 seats
National Alliance 2 seats
Kurdish Alliance 1 seat

SOURCES

AK News, “Discords over Kirkuk after Iraq vote,” 3/22/10

Allam, Hannah, “Iraq election: a ‘birther’ movement and comparisons to Nazi Germany,” McClatchy Newspapers, 3/26/10

Associated Press, “Iraq’s new parliament seat distribution,” 3/26/10

Fadel, Leila, “Iraq’s Kurds could lose some of their influence to anti-American Sadr movement,” Washington Post, 3/24/10

Hamad, Qassim Khidhir, “kurdish kingmakes?” Niqash, 3/25/10

Hanna, Michael, Wahid, “How much do they hate Maliki?” Middle East Channel, Foreign Policy, 3/26/10

Inside Iraq, “Iraq’s Election results,” McClatchy Newspapers, 3/26/10

Najm, Hayder, “tight race means a long wait for new pm,” Niqash, 3/24/10

Roads To Iraq, “Coalitions, negotiations and the making of a king,” 3/20/10

Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Iraq’s two main Shi’ite blocs discuss merger,” Reuters, 3/23/10

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the Shiite south, Allawi’s list was able to garner 17 of 199 seats, for 14%.

Just a little typo - should be 119 seats, not 199.

Thank you for your commentary and analysis, by the way!

Joel Wing said...

Thanks! Will fix it. I just caught an error in the previous article as well.

Harry Barnes said...

Let me know if you see any factual errors here - http://threescoreyearsandten.blogspot.com/2010/03/iraq-who-is-winner.html

Anonymous said...

1st anon again...after a deeper reading, referencing this part:

State of Law, the Kurdish Alliance, and the other members of the National Alliance besides the Sadrists would account for 162 seats. Maliki would only have to bring in one more minor party such as the Accordance Front or Unity of Iraq to gain a majority in parliament

Actually, my understanding is that the two non-Rafidein Christian quota seats are lockstep with the Kurds, and the Shebak quota seat winner is also a KDP member, so that alliance could give him 165. Take that with a grain of salt, but that's my understanding.

Harry Barnes said...

On your profile you state "My views on the war have changed over time". Please let me know where I can find details of how and why they changed.

Joel Wing said...

Visser had an article on the minority seats. According to him, 6 will be pro-Kurdish, one is non-aligned, and one is anti-Kurd.

Here's the link:

http://gulfanalysis.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/the-pro-kurdish-minority-vote/

bb said...

Maliki is a tough guy. Maybe he'll just tell INA, the Kurds and Iran they can have him on his terms or an ex baath shia PM and Sunni arab government chocka block with secret baath sympathisers in charge of the Iraqi army.

Joel Wing said...

bb,

I'm sure Maliki is making that exact same argument right now.

bb said...

Hope so. Whatever Maliki's deficiences he has done the hard yards since 2006 and I would like to see the shia extreme religious wing shoved to the sidelines since the Iraqis have made it clear that is what they want.

Joel Wing said...

bb,

We'll see. Everyone is talking about Sadr being a kingmaker now that his list has won so many seats and he has come out against Maliki.

Harry,

I use to write long pieces on message boards and make a lot of comments on newspapers, blogs, etc. starting back in 2002. I don't even know whether that stuff is still around.

bb said...

If Maliki's smart he'll just sit on his hands and invite Kurds/ISCI/Sadrists to make up their minds about backing Allawi and sunni led government.

Harry Barnes said...

Joel : So briefly, where did you move from and to over the war? I was on the platform which launched "Labour Against the War" in the Commons prior to the invasion. But some time afterwards I resigned from the organisation and helped set up a group called "Labour Friends of Iraq". This wasn't because I had changed my mind about the invasion, but because I thought that a positive agenda was then needed giving support to those Iraqis who were attempting to build a better future. The anti-war movement in Britain having become soft on terrorism.

Joel Wing said...

Harry,

To be real brief, I went from thinking that everything in Iraq was going to be a disaster because the U.S. had planned so badly for post-war Iraq and didnt know what they were doing, to now seeing that life will go in the country, and that Iraqis will determine their own future. It's just going to be a very bumpy ride with a lot of struggles and mistakes.

Harry Barnes said...

Joel,

To me the disasters were (1) the invasion, (2) post-war mismanagement and (3) taking an eye off what was needed in Afganistan. But once the invasion had taken place, pressing for the reforms of (2) and (3) were on the agenda. Nothing ever stands still.

Anonymous said...

How does the compensatory seats system work?

Joel Wing said...

Compensatory seats are suppose to go to lists that don't do well at the local povincial level but get a lot of votes nationally. By the wording it would seem like that would help the small parties but the seats go to the big lists because they get the most votes overall.