November 25, 2010 is the expected date that President Jalal Talabani will officially send a letter to Nouri al-Maliki making him the prime minister designee. After that Maliki will have 30 days to put together a new ruling coalition. A new government shouldn’t be expected until early next year however.
The main sticking point will be dividing up the various ministries. Iraq currently has 37 cabinet positions. The government run paper Al-Sabah reported that 18 ministries will go to the National Coalition that consists of Maliki’s State of Law and the Sadrist-Supreme Council-led Iraqi National Alliance, nine will be assigned to Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement (INM), the Kurdish Coalition will get seven, and one post will be given to the Christians. There has also been talk about expanding the number of ministries and deputies to meet all the demand from the parties.
The lists have created a numerical system to divide up the main offices. Each list will be assigned a number of points calculated by multiplying the number of seats they won times two. Those will then be expended upon posts that are given a score based upon their importance. Allawi’s INM for example won 91 seats, which means they have 182 points. The top spots in the country, prime minister, premier, speaker, and head of the National Council for Strategic Policies all cost 15 points. INM received the speakership and the head of the new council, which means they have spent 30 points already. The parties have already created a committee to discuss who gets what. The second deputy speaker Arif Tayfour warned that these talks have brought out internal divisions within many lists, which could drag out the process.
Iraq’s politicians have already taken eight months to just reach a power sharing agreement, and can be expected to take several more before a cabinet is finally formed. In total, it could be almost a year before Maliki has a new government put together. The whole ordeal has taken so long because of the many divisions amongst Iraq’s parties. There were disagreements amongst the Shiite lists over Maliki’s return to power. Allawi remains bitter that he was not named to form a new coalition, and still may walk away while other members of his National Movement take up new jobs. In the end though, the new regime will look and act a lot like the old one. The most important positions will be divided along ethnosectarian lines, and because so many parties are involved there will be little consensus to do much of anything about the major problems the country faces.
Aswat al-Iraq, “Iraq’s Defense and Interior Ministries won’t be assigned for independent elements, al-Iraqiya MP says,” 11/22/10
Elaph, Al-Hayat, Al-Zaman, Al-Mada, “Maliki, To Be Officially Designated To Form Iraqi Government, Is Already In Action,” MEMRI Blog, 11/22/10
Al-Hafar, Hasoun, “Lawmaker: Strategic Council to be in the ministerial Council,” AK News, 11/21/10
Al-Jader, May, “Political blocs lay claims on Iraqi ministries,” AK News, 11/21/10
Al-Sabah, Al-Zaman, “Emerging Plan for Shape of New Government in Iraq,” MEMRI Blog, 11/23/10
Uragency, “Close Al-Maliki Aide: No Decision on Assignment of Ministries,” MEMRI Blog, 11/17/10