The prominent role of Tariq Harb, a legal counsel to Nuri al-Maliki, in communicating the decision of the electoral judicial panel to exclude 52 candidates and annul their votes retroactively has now been explained: A leaked letter from the panel indicates that the call for exclusion came from two different sides – the accountability and justice board headed by Ali al-Lami of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) and, in a separate complaint, the State of Law alliance (SLA) led by Nuri al-Maliki.
Equally important is the essential three-way character of the struggle, with Lami and Maliki still attacking the secularists in Iraqiyya from two different sides, and sometimes striking against each other instead. This is best illustrated in the legal reasoning behind the complaint from SLA. Their argument is that since their own candidate in Najaf, Abbud al-Eisawi, was de-Baathified shortly before the election and deprived of his votes at one point during the counting process, the same logic should apply to the 52 recently banned, i.e. the entity should lose their votes entirely. Equally important, though, is the fact that towards the end of March – one assumes by way of Iraqi magic – Eisawi was cleared by the special appeals court for de-Baathification and his votes were therefore counted in the normal fashion (he is a seat winner in Najaf and is recognised as such by IHEC). In other words, Maliki was first attacked by Lami who sought to exclude Eisawi; Maliki then got Eisawi reinstated by the appeals court but is using the Eisawi precedent (his votes do not appear on the early returns from Najaf) to exclude others who were not so lucky (and who happen to be mostly from Iraqiyya). In other words, one senses that one arm of the Iraqi system, the de-Baathification board, is still largely an INA preserve, but that Maliki is increasingly able to get the decisions he wants from the de-Baathification appeals board and the electoral judicial panel. Tragically, of course, by choosing this approach Maliki is in practice perpetuating the de-Baathification issue whose revival in 2009 was designed by Iran as a two-pronged attack against himself and Ayad Allawi, the two most popular politicians in Iraq.
It is of course particularly ironic that this should all come at a time when for the first time there seems to be consistent calls in the Iraqi press for the most logical of all the potential alliances – Maliki and Allawi joining together. Even some Daawa politicians have referred to their merger as a “popular demand”. Perhaps what we are seeing is that once more, ploys that were devised several weeks ago catch up with their authors and create problems in the ever-changing political landscape of Iraq.
PS Meanwhile, late Thursday Iraqiyya revealed the identity of the eight additional candidates that are being chased by Lami (i.e. distinct from the 52 others, who were singled out by both Lami and Maliki). This is a bombshell in two respects. Firstly, there is news that IHEC has asked these candidates to submit their appeals, meaning the electoral judicial panel has probably sustained the demand by Lami to exclude them and their votes (this had not been expected until next week). And that is the second point: The prominence of these people, and the number of votes they represent. They are as follows:
|Falah Hasan Zaydan||Nineveh||Hiwar||18,954|
|Attab Jasim Nusayf||Baghdad||Karbuli||6,179 (female)|
Witwit and Jannabi were de-Baathified, un-Baathified and then re-Baathified in a farcical process prior to the 7 March vote. Zaydan, Witwit and Karbuli seem significant in terms of high numbers of personal votes: Updated, readjusted governorate forecast for these will follow here shortly, possibly along with Wasit.
PPS Very rough calculation indicates SLA/Maliki might be the actual loser in Babel if Witwit is excluded: The electoral divider changes from 36,642 to 35,948 and INA therefore gets 5 seats in the first allocation instead of its original four! INM loses votes but not seats; the new distribution would apparently be INA 6 (+1), INM 3 (no change), SLA 7 (-1). Of course, it is impossible to say for sure until all 50, non-winning excluded candidates have been identified by governorate and added to the equation but precisely because they are non-winning they will tend to have low personal scores and are therefore less likely to affect the seat distribution. More governorates to follow soon.
Wasit: If Batikh is excluded, Allawi could lose one seat and Maliki could gain one, although it would be very close with some 6,000 votes setting them apart. The initial allocation remains the same but the exclusion of the votes of Batikh kicks in in the second allocation, where the INM share goes down from 15 to 13% and that of SLA goes up from 45 to 47%, enabling it to catch one seat in the first round and another on the basis of the largest remainder.
Anbar: Apparently unchanged; Iraqiyya has a solid lead.
Nineveh: Apparently also unchanged but the northern governorates appear to be prone to de-Baathification and there could be retroactively-de-Baathified non-winning candidates way down on the lists that might change the numbers a little.
In sum: With every possible caveat about a very rough calculation with no time for double-checking, if these candidates are confirmed as excluded and nothing changes in the Baghdad recount, the whole process might leave INA with one additional seat, SLA unchanged and Iraqiyya could lose one (but still one seat ahead of SLA). Whereas the initial 52 exclusions sought by both Maliki and Lami seemed to be of little consequence as far as seat distribution is concerned, these 8 additional ones pursued by Lami could produce changes – that is perhaps also why they were filed after the results were made public? Note also that Lami has talked about 8 exclusions whereas only 7 individuals have been named by Iraqiyya as subject to the latest decision.