In 2009 two new parties emerged in northern Iraq. One was the Arab led al-Hadbaa Party in Ninewa that was organized around Iraqi nationalism, economic development of the province, and opposition to Kurdish aspirations to annex disputed areas. It gained support from business elites, tribal sheikhs, Kurds opposed to the ruling Kurdish parties, Turkmen, former Baathists, and nationalist insurgent groups. That helped them win a majority in Ninewa in the January 2009 provincial elections, and take control of the local government. The other group was the Change List, formed by the co-founder of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Nishurwan Mustafa. Change promised greater transparency in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), an end to corruption, and separating the ruling parties from the government administration and justice system. It won 23% of the vote in the July 2009 Kurdish parliamentary elections, including a majority in the PUK stronghold of Sulaymaniya, drawing upon former PUK members and people disaffected with the ruling Kurdish parties.
Both parties are now running in Ninewa in the March 2010 parliamentary vote, and have discussed an alliance. Al-Hadbaa is competing as part of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqi National Movement, while the Change List is running alone. They are two of 37 parties involved in the balloting for 31 seats up for grabs in the governorate. At first, a coalition between the two would seem an odd couple since al-Hadbaa is mostly known for its anti-Kurdish stance, but they actually share the same opponents, the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The Change List for example, has complained that the KDP is hindering their campaign in Ninewa, while the KDP-PUK led Ninewa Fraternal List are boycotting the al-Hadbaa led provincial council and have set up their own administration in districts they control in Ninewa.
Talks have been held between the two lists, but nothing has been confirmed. Al-Hadbaa leaders believe that they can win up to 20 of Ninewa’s 31 seats, while Change expects to win around 3. It would still be a bit of an odd couple if the two did join together, but it could show that al-Hadbaa is opposed to Kurdish designs on Ninewa, rather than Kurds themselves, and that Change will not follow the lead of the PUK and KDP in parliament as many expect. The story is an interesting one, and shows the state of flux Iraqi politics are currently in as new parties are attempting to break the hold of the older, larger, and more powerful lists that have dominated Iraq since the 2003 invasion.
AK News, “Goran List faces obstacles caused by KDP in Mosul,” 2/27/10
- “Hadba expects to win 20 seats in eth March 7 polls,” 2/27/10
Hamad, Qassim Khidhir, “kurdish election lists,” Niqash, 6/30/09
International Crisis Group, “Iraq’s New Battlefront: The Struggle Over Ninewa,” 9/28/09
Niqash, “the hadbaa national list,” 1/28/09
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