Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for March 22nd, 2010

A Dead Heat: The 95 Percent Count

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 22 March 2010 10:53

It seems is will take another week before we will have the final uncertified results (Friday is mentioned as a possible release date), so in the meanwhile, here is a prognosis based on the 95% count, this time with compensation seats added:

Percentage counted INA SLA INM Unity of Iraq Tawafuq Kurdistan Alliance Other Kurdish
Basra 97 7 14 3
Maysan 98 6 4
Dhi Qar 97 9 8 1
Muthanna 98 3 4
Qadisiyya 97 5 5 1
Babel 96 5 8 3
Najaf 98 5 7
Karbala 97 3 6 1
Wasit 99 4 6 1
Baghdad 95 16 27 24 1
Anbar 94 12 1 1
Salahaddin 95 10 1 1
Diyala 94 3 1 8 1
Nineveh 94 1 21 1 1 7
Kirkuk 90 6 6
Arbil 95 10 2+1+1
Dahuk 96 8 2
Sulimaniya 93 7 6+3+1
Total + compensation (C) 67+2C 90+2C 91+2C 3 4 39+1C 8+6+2

***Excluding 8 minority seats. 1 seat in Babel corrected from INA to INM.

The picture is more or less identical to that presented previously for the 66% count. State of Law (SLA) and Iraqiyya (INM) are still neck and neck, but with INM’s lead now reduced to one seat.

For unclear reasons, the international media keeps reporting the race as if the total number of votes nationwide or the act of “winning” particular governorates (i.e. by coming first) were of immense importance. For example, a recent AFP report reads, “The latest partial results, released Saturday, showed al-Maliki’s secular Shiite challenger, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, leading by a slim margin over the prime minister’s coalition in the overall tally. However, al-Maliki is winning in seven of Iraq’s 18 provinces, which is significant because parliament seats are allotted based on the outcome of voting in each province.” The truth is that none of this has any significance whatsoever. Under Iraq’s system of proportional representation, the sole relevance of the national total is to compute the 7 compensatory seats, and it is the proportion of seats in each governorate that counts, not the question of who comes first (for example, in Qadisiyya, INA looks set to “beat” SLA with a few hundred votes and yet they will both get 5 seats each). Maybe this strange reporting is a result of Anglo-Saxon and Westminster ideals of majoritarian democracy still exercising a certain influence!

The only plausible explanation for diverging predictions at this stage lies in the question of how to compute the second allocation of seats in each governorate, the so-called “vacant” seats that remain after each entity has been given a number of seats based on the initial calculation in which its votes are divided by the electoral divider (all valid votes divided by available seats). Now, the fourth part of article three in the amendments to the electoral law that were passed last autumn says these remaining seats are for “winning entities that received a number of seats (‘adad min al-maqa‘id) in the initial allocation”. Several Iraqi legal experts say this means you need to have won more than one seat (rather than “any number of seats”) to take part in the second allocation, reflecting the bias towards larger parties in Iraq’s variant of PR. However, this aspect is not spelt out in detail in IHEC regulation 21 on the distribution of seats! It does make a difference, since Tawafuq would “steal” around 3 seats from Iraqiyya under a more proportional method of distribution in which 1-seat entities are allowed to take part in the second allocation (Iraqiyya would in turn win one seat in Wasit, though, at the expense of SLA, creating a tie). Failure to take into account this aspect may explain the fact that some Western estimates tend to put Tawafuq higher and Iraqiyya lower, whereas the IHEC numbers fed to the Iraqi political entities so far seem to be more in accordance with the numbers presented above and hence a more majoritarian reading of the relevant legislation.

Alternative allocation:

Percentage counted INA SLA INM Unity of Iraq Tawafuq Kurdistan Alliance Other Kurdish
Basra 97 7 14 3
Maysan 98 6 4
Dhi Qar 97 9 8 1
Muthanna 98 3 4
Qadisiyya 97 5 5 1
Babel 96 5 8 3
Najaf 98 5 7
Karbala 97 3 6 1
Wasit 99 4 5 2
Baghdad 95 16 27 24 1
Anbar 94 11 1 2
Salahaddin 95 9 1 2
Diyala 94 3 1 8 1
Nineveh 94 1 20 1 2 7
Kirkuk 90 6 6
Arbil 95 10 2+1+1
Dahuk 96 8 2
Sulimaniya 93 7 6+3+1
Total + compensation (C) 67+2C 89+2C 89+2C 3 7 39+1C 8+6+2

***Excluding 8 minority seats.

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