Iraq’s new parliament held its first session on September 3. Its new members were sworn in, and then parties began leaving because they were no closer to forming a government than a week ago when the meeting was called.
There are still two main camps competing for power. One is now called the Reform and Construction list that includes Moqtada al-Sadr, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, Ammar Hakim, and Iyad Allawi. To make matters confusing the rival list is called Construction and is led by Nouri al-Maliki and Hadi Amiri. Both claimed they had formed the largest list. On paper, Reform and Construction appears to have more parliamentarians, but Amiri and Maliki have been working on peeling off individual MPs from their lists to join them. Abadi’s Nasr for instance, appears to be splitting and some members might have joined Construction. The two lists are now heading for the courts to try to have the judiciary decide what the definition of the largest bloc means, whether that is made up of the lists or individual lawmakers.
This is very reminiscent of 2010, but with differences. Then like now, parliament met but remained open for weeks while the leading parties hashed out a new government. The winners also went to court to determine what the largest bloc meant, which gives it the right to form a government. Then the courts ruled that whatever coalition was formed after the vote, not the winner, which was Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya, could try to put together a ruling alliance. Now the issue will be what does a coalition consist of, the parties or the individual parliamentarians. That could take weeks to resolve. In the end, both sides need to work out a deal. Neither is willing to be left out of government and becoming an opposition. Too much is at stake with ministries and the money, patronage and ability to steal from them that comes along with running them. Both sides are also well armed, and excluding one could lead to violence. The court’s decision then, may just be another step in this dragged out process.
Ebraheem, Mohammed, “Sadr-Abadi alliance announces formation of biggest parliamentary bloc,” Iraqi News, 9/3/18
Al Maalomah, “Al-Mutlaq to Al-Maalomah: The Reform and Reconstruction bloc includes 183 seats and the Kurds will join us soon,” 9/3/18
Rudaw, “Maliki-Amiri alliance claims to have biggest parliamentary bloc,” 9/3/18
- “New Iraqi lawmakers begin process to activate next parliament,” 9/3/18
Al Sumaria, “Fatah announces the addition of the Turkmen Front and the Kurdistan Islamic Union to the Construction Coalition,” 9/3/18