Iraq and Gulf Analysis

An Iraq Blog by a Victim of the Human Rights Crimes of the Norwegian Government

The Unity of Iraq Alliance: Another Second-Generation Coalition

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 20:02

[Update 24 October 13:25 CET: The Iraqi elections commission has just extended the deadline for registering coalitions until the close of business hours on 31 October 2009]

The significance of the Unity of Iraq Alliance announced today is that it forms yet another second-generation alliance in Iraq’s post-2003 politics, based on participation by politicians from various sects and ethnicities on an equal basis and connected through certain common (if in this case yet understated) ideological preferences. After the formation of Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition on 1 October, this is the second major cross-sectarian electoral coalition to emerge in the run-up to the January 2010 parliamentary elections… Full story here.

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16 Responses to “The Unity of Iraq Alliance: Another Second-Generation Coalition”

  1. bb said

    It’s marvellous to read of this explosion of political activity in Iraq. They choose the most inventive and evocative names for their political parties, too. But aren’t the Arab led parties running a serious risk of fracturing their vote to the extent that the Kurds might win the plurality and get to nominate the PM and cabinet? If this happened, the problems of Kirkuk would pale into insignicance, there would be a national upheaval, surely?

  2. Alexno said

    OK, so we now have three alliances. What do you think of their chances in the actual election? Maliki sounds somewhat in the minority.

    Obviously we can expect recombinations both before and particularly after the election.

  3. Reidar Visser said

    BB, I tend to agree with you that the possibility that the Kurds may come out as the single biggest bloc certainly exists since they are very well organised, although I would still stress that the process of coalition-forming has yet to come to its definitive end, and the Kurds also face a challenge from within this time through the “Change” list. But I think Alex also hints at a way of reasoning that I suspect Iraqi politicians may have in their mind: Post-election coalition forming. That would be an insult to voters and a major step backwards, particularly if there is a closed list and everyone enters aboard big lists to secure their seats through backroom deals only to open up for new alliances once parliament opens! But the constitution only says the president should give the biggest bloc in parliament responsibility for forming a government. And as said earlier, this time the president can be elected with a simple-majority vote.

    Alex, I really don’t want to make any predictions before we know a.) the elections system and b.) the total coalition picture. There are still nationalists that talk about joining Maliki, or establishing a fourth coalition and so on. Also there are some further developments regarding coalition-forming that I have described in a postscript note to the main article – things are still developing, it seems.

  4. Bassim said

    I deeply believe that the outcome of the “political process”
    in Iraq is in the hands of the only colossal force tightly
    governing the grounds, obviously is the United States.

    All what we see is something like what happens inside
    a closed glass box in a biology lab, it’s effect is cooped up
    within the box

  5. Sam said

    re: “this time the president can be elected with a simple-majority vote.”

    I’m pretty sure that it still takes a two-thirds vote to elect the president:

    Article 70:
    First: The Council of Representatives shall elect a President of the Republic from
    among the candidates by a two-thirds majority of the number of its members.

    The provisions that will sunset relate to the presidency council and other powers defined in Article 138. Article 70 remains unaffected.

  6. Reidar Visser said

    Sam, just to clarify, I was thinking of the subsequent paragraph which says that in case no one obtains two thirds of the vote there will be a run-off and the candidate with most votes is elected. As I understand it, this will suffice to create a different dynamic than in 2006.

  7. Salah said

    I’m pretty sure that it still takes a two-thirds vote to elect the president:

    Sam, looks already things sort out read below::

    اكد الدكتور فؤاد معصوم رئيس كتلة التحالف الكردستاني في مجلس النواب ان الاكراد مستعدون للمشاركة في حكومة وحدة وطنية على وفق برنامج متفق عليه مسبقا وواجب التنفيذ من قبل الاطراف التي سوف تشارك في تاليفها. ونقلت صحيفة (النور) عن معصوم قوله: انه لاتوجد حتى الان جهة او قائمة او طرف يمكن التحالف معه مسبقا مشيرا الى ان القائمة او الكتلة التي تحصل على الاغلبية هي التي يجب ان تشكل الحكومة .وكشف معصوم عن ان هناك توافقا وطنيا عاما ومن قبل جميع الاطراف تقريبا بالتجديد للرئيس جلال طالباني لولاية ثانية مضيفا ان العديد من الجهات والاطراف باتت تهمها صحة مام جلال اكثر من الاكراد انفسهم لاعتقادهم انه يظل يمثل قاسما مشتركا للمرحلة القادمة.

  8. Salah said

    I second what Bassim saying.

    What most western reporter and others they trying give Legitimacy to the fake, corrupted and ill Iraqi political process as if the Iraqis living in under very freedom environments and they do what they like,

    But for Iraqis they as they saying” مفتحين باللبن ” they knew what’s going on in their country very well.

    If Iraq is going well and things going good, the reality this from invader and occupier point view, the reality coming from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) when they saying:

    Iraq remains the top country of origin of the asylum applicants (13,200 claims) for the fourth consecutive year.

  9. It’s marvellous to read of this explosion of political activity in Iraq. They choose the most inventive and evocative names for their political parties, too. But aren’t the Arab led parties running a serious risk of fracturing their vote to the extent that the Kurds might win the plurality and get to nominate the PM and cabinet? If this happened, the problems of Kirkuk would pale into insignicance, there would be a national upheaval, surely?

    Bb – this will not happen. The PM is chosen by a majority, not the plurality. The Kurds may, however, be able to help elect the PM if the Hakim-Sadr-Jaafari Iraqi National Alliance – which includes their old friends, ISCI – does well enough. But I think the INA needs at least 90 seats to make Abd al-Mahdi PM. Maliki, Allawi or even Bolani could become PM with a much lower threshhold, because none of them are as noxious to the others as ISCI.

    As for the names, they sound awkward in English because they have to keep more imaginiative ways to phrase the same concepts in Arabic as there are dozens of parties with names that are virtually identical. They all have one word in them related to the entity – hizb (party), kutla (bloc), itilaf (coalition), tajama’ (assembly), majlis (council or congress), jibha (front), tiyar (current), qaima (list), and so on. And then about 30-40 have some variation of the words “national” and “Iraqi” in them. So they have to come up with something.

  10. bb said

    Kirk Sowell:

    Iraqi Constitution.

    Article 73:

    First: The President of the Republic shall name the nominee of the Council of Representatives bloc with the largest number to form the Cabinet within fifteen days from the date of the election of the president of the republic.

    Second: The Prime Minister-designate shall undertake the naming of the members of his Cabinet within a period not to exceed thirty days from the date of his designation.”

    It is only if the PM designate can’t form a cabinet that:

    “Third: In case the Prime Minister-designate fails to form the cabinet during the period specified in clause “Second,” the President of the Republic shall name a new nominee for the post of Prime Minister within fifteen days.”

    And so on.

    In the last elections the major Kurdish party had the 2nd largest bloc in the COR – 53 members with a % of 21.7. The shia UIA had the largest: 128 members, 41.1%. The nearest bloc to these two was the Sunni arab Accord – 44 members, 15.1%

    But the shia party has now split into two, with other components also appararently hiving off into other alliances. Under proportional representation this increases their risk of losing their largest bloc status to the Kurds.

    To be safe, imo, ISCI or Maliki/Dawa parties need to bring in Allawi’s Iraqiyya given that the major Sunni arab party has also split up.

  11. Reidar Visser said

    Or Maliki could bring in Iraqiyya, Hiwar, Nujayfi, Mashhadani/Jabiri, or the latter group of parties need to get their act together and coalesce asap or join the new Unity of Iraq Alliance.

  12. bb said

    Well out of that lot Iraqiyya is the only one with something concrete to offer in terms of demonstrated ability to win significant votes and seats in its own right. The others are just shuffling around shia and sunni arab votes from other parties.

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Bb, could you share with us others what sources you use to profile the typical Hiwar, Nujayfi and Mashhadani/Jabiri voter? Also I cannot help wondering what is so bad about picking up “Shiite and Sunni Arab voters from other parties” anyway?

  14. bb said

    Did Hiwar, Nujayfi and Mashhadani/Jabiri contest the last elections in their own right? I don’t believe they did. In which case there is no way of assessing how many votes, and in which provinces, they can pull in to their alliances. However Allawi’s party did contest those elections in its own right and pulled in 8% and 25 seats so that at least gives a foundation for analysis.

    There is only one sized cake in this equation. In proportional representation, the more parties there are, the smaller the slices get. That’s what I mean by shuffling around votes.

    All this in the context of the risk that the Kurds may get the plurality because of the fragmentation of the shia and sunni parties votes.

  15. Reidar Visser said

    Well a good place to start is the January local elections where Nujayfi et al. won 19 of 34 seats in Nineveh; he is also popular across the northern governorates. Hiwar won around 19 seats in various governorates and ran separately for parliament back in 2005 when they won 9 seats. Mashhadani was with Tawafuq back in 2005 and Jabiri with Fadila (he is from Baghdad and had no association with the Fadila branch in Basra).

    My point is that these parties are associated with many of the issues that became popular with voters in 2008 such as the greater focus on cross-sectarian cooperation, the need to hold local elections, the importance of highlighting Kirkuk as an issue of national concern and generally ending the stranglehold of the “forces of 2005”. Besides, the size of the cake will depend on things like voter enthusiasm, percentage of participation and number of “wasted” votes. Many different terms can be used to describe Iraqi politics but the last local elections clearly showed that “static” and “zero-sum” just aren’t particularly relevant.

  16. Bassim said

    It’s a contest on who will become the head of servants (the butler) in the “Green zone Castle”.

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