Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Sadrist Performance under the Open-List System

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 13 March 2010 2:50

While we are waiting for more complete elections results, one of the interesting aspects of the materials released by IHEC thus far concerns the impact of the open-list system on internal alliance dynamics.

One of the most heterogeneous alliances in this respect is 316, the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), the Shiite-led bloc formed in Iran last year by an alliance of ISCI, Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s wing of the Daawa and the Sadrists. A key question has been whether the open-list system would bring into the open an assumed grass-root support base for the Sadrists that was not reflected at the elite level, where ISCI was dominant.

Babel Original list Partial results
1 ISCI Badr
2 Jaafari Sadr
3 Sadr ISCI
4 Badr Sadr
5 Independent Sadr
Maysan Original list Partial results
1 Fadila Sadr
2 Jaafari Sadr
3 Sadr Local ally of ISCI
4 Badr Sadr
5 Local ally of ISCI Fadila
Najaf Original list Partial results
1 Sadr Badr
2 Badr Sadr
3 Jaafari Sadr
4 Sadr Sadr
5 Bahr al-Ulum Independent


The theoretical re-ordering of the INA list on the basis of the partial results suggests that this kind of factor may indeed exist. It is noteworthy that in this material, Sadrist representation more than doubles among the top five vote-getters in each governorate as a result of the open-list system, increasing from 4 to 9. This is at the expense of ISCI/Badr in particular, which were dominant by default in the original 316 list (even though some Badr representatives in core areas like Najaf still do well), as well as Jaafari and Fadila, who both generally perform dismally in this material. Of the three governorates covered – Najaf, Maysan (released on Friday) and Babel – only Maysan can really be described as a traditional Sadrist stronghold.

The final ranking of the candidates must also take into account women’s quotas, although it is noteworthy that the Sadrists in fact provide rare examples of women actively being promoted at the expense of male candidates from other parties. At any rate, if these patterns prevail in the final results they might have interesting implications for future coalition dynamics (including the scenario of successful elements from 316 breaking out to join new coalitions), where negotiations so far have been conducted mainly by the old, “closed-list” elites.

4 Responses to “Sadrist Performance under the Open-List System”

  1. Joe said

    Reidar, interesting stuff. If the final results do bear this out (an increase in Sadrist representation), do you think it increases or decreases the likelihood that the Sadrists break with INA to join State of Law during the coalition-building phase? My guess would be that it increases…especially with early results showing that State of Law may earn a plurality.

    At the same time, what can we presume about the ISCI and/or Badr reaction? Am wondering if a disappointing performance might increase the likelihood of Badr-associated violence or unrest if ISCI and/or Badr is left out of a ruling coalition.

  2. Reidar Visser said

    Could go different ways, I think. Some Sadrists are quite antagonistic to Maliki, others may see a chance of getting free from perceived ISCI dominance in INA. Some of the more nationalist Sadrists have a past record of dialogue with Iraqiyya.

    As for ISCI and the prospect of a potential spoiler role, it may certainly exist, although Badr has already experienced some marginalisation within the security forces compared to the strong role they had back in 2005-2007.

  3. kairena Jamal said

    Thank you for this very good site!

    Is there any chance of The Kurdish alliance joining up with Iraqiyya to give Allawi the prime minister post?

    And, I cant see the listings of these 13 provinces on the IHEC homepage, are they released elsewhere?

    Best, Kairena

  4. Reidar Visser said

    Well, Iraqiyya will need more than the Kurdish support. Of course, they talk with INA, but that would be an unstable government full of contradictions, especially since Iraqiyya are centralists and anti-Iranian and ISCI are decentralisers and pro-Iranian. This is where the advance of the Sadrists inside INA is quite interesting.

    The results are here:

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