Sunday, November 21, 2010

Change List Makes A Power Play For The Deputy Premier Spot

On November 16, 2010 the Change List announced that it wanted the deputy prime minister position in the new government. It said that it was planning on holding talks with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki over the matter, and also wanted other senior positions. This is a major attempt by the new Kurdish opposition group to establish itself as a national party in Iraqi politics. It’s also daring since Change only won eight seats in the March parliamentary election.

Change does have a slight chance of achieving this goal. First, when the Maliki government was originally put together in 2006 the leading posts were divided up along ethnosectarian lines. Thus, while a Shiite was made premier, his two deputies were a Sunni, Rafi Issawi, and a Kurd, Barhem Saleh. (1) This time the major lists are discussing a point system where each party gets a number of points based upon how many seats they won, and those go towards the posts, each of which cost a certain amount. Ethnicity and sect are still playing a role however. The premier will remain a Shiite, the president a Kurd, and the speaker of parliament a Sunni. Other spots are likely to be divvied up in a similar manner, which means the Change List, as a Kurdish party, could get the deputy premier. Second, Maliki may want to play the Change List against the Kurdish Coalition, which is made up of the other winning Kurdish parties. Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani played a leading role in breaking the deadlock over forming a government. As a result, the Coalition is demanding a large say in the new ruling coalition. Maliki may try to temper its victory a bit by giving the Change List the deputy premiership.

Change was formed in the summer of 2009. It was the newest opposition party in Kurdistan, and led by the co-founder of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Nishurwan Mustafa. It won 25 seats in the July 2009 Kurdistan regional parliament elections, and then eight in the March national vote. It joined the Kurdish Coalition afterward, but then split on October 31 due to a dispute over a bill for provincial balloting in Kurdistan. It seemed like Change would rejoin the Coalition at first, but then on November 15 it said it would remain separate

Asking for the deputy premier is a bold move. Change needs to make demands like that if it wants to remain relevant for such a small party in parliament. It can also establish its independence from the Kurdish Coalition, as well as offer itself as an alternative. Only time will tell whether Change’s plan is successful or not.


1. O’Hanlon, Michael and Campbell, Jason, “Iraq Index,” Brookings Institution, 11/20/08


American Contractor, “In Iraq Its All About The Points,” 11/16/10

DeYoung, Karen, “As Iraqis forged agreement, U.S. remained influential, administration says,” Washington Post, 11/13/10

Al-Jaff, Wissam, “Gorran declares independence from Kurdish bloc in Iraqi government,” AK News, 11/15/10
- “Gorran to demand deputy PM post,” AK News, 11/16/10

Mohammed, Hazhar, “Arrangements for Gorran to return to KBC,” AK News, 11/14/10

O’Hanlon, Michael and Campbell, Jason, “Iraq Index,” Brookings Institution, 11/20/08

Al-Rafidyan, “Iraq Leaders Reach Deal On Forming A New Government,” MEMRI Blog, 11/11/10

Taha, Yaseen, “a crisis conference,” Niqash, 6/1/10

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