Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for April 22nd, 2010

Compensation Seats for Hamudi, Hasani and Jasim Muhammad Jaafar

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 22 April 2010 12:16

Until this week, the Kurdistan Alliance had been the only bloc to formally notify the Iraqi elections commission (IHEC) about its nominee (Fuad Masum) for the seven compensation seats that have been allotted to the winning blocs (1 for KA; two each for Iraqiyya, State of Law and Iraqi National Alliance).

However, once the manual recount for Baghdad had been announced, State of Law (SLA) moved quickly to announce its two nominees: Hajim al-Hasani and Jasim Muhammad Jaafar. Of these two, the seat awarded to Jaafar is probably the one that most closely approximates the conventional logic of a compensation seat under a proportional-representation system. Jaafar was the number one candidate for SLA in Salahaddin. He failed to win a seat, but with some 7,000 personal votes and 33,000 entity votes, this is a classical example of a situation in which a candidate failed to reach the governorate threshold (in this case 40,700 according to IHEC calculations) but was reasonably close and might have been able to win in a different governorate with a lower electoral divider.

On the other hand, as number 6 on the Baghdad list of SLA with just 700 personal votes, Hajim al-Hasani represents a different kind of compensation-seat usage. In this case, the discretion of the party leadership has been more decisive and is more clearly at variance with the will of the electorate. Hasani is of course not only the official spokesman of SLA, he is also sometimes portrayed as the “Sunni” face of SLA and as such part of the attempts to portray the bloc as a “rainbow alliance”. However, when SLA’s disposal of the compensation seats is viewed as a whole, it is probably the Turkmen ties of both nominees that stand out. Both Jasim Muhammad Jaafar and Hajim al-Hasani have Turkmen family connections, the former a Shiite and the second reportedly of mixed Sunni–Shiite origin. But before we get lost in the sectarian genetics of this, it may be more important to consider the geographical ties of the two candidates: With links to Salahaddin and Kirkuk respectively, they could represent an attempt by Maliki to enhance his Iraqi nationalist credentials north of Baghdad. It is also noteworthy that there are already several prominent Turkmens in SLA, such as Abbas al-Bayati who won a Baghdad seat.

The most dramatic departure from conventional usage of the compensation seat in PR tradition refers to the one nominee that has been confirmed by INA so far, Humam Hamudi. With his 68 personal votes and altogether no more than 205 entity votes in Sulaymaniyya, the award of a parliamentary seat to Hamudi amounts to something of a lordship in its nonchalant contempt for the will of the electorate. Hamudi is of course a very senior ISCI official who led the work with the constitution and the constitutional revision, but like Jalal al-Din al-Saghir and Rida Jawad Taqi he chose to be placed in constituencies where there are virtually no Shiites, like the Kurdish governorates and Anbar. It is rumoured that the other INA compensation seat – which for a while seemed earmarked for a Sadrist – may in fact be given to Falih al-Fayyad of the Ibrahim al-Jaafari bloc (it will be interesting to see whether the Sadrists will go along with this). He performed a little better in Baghdad with 3,000 votes, and to some extent one might argue that this could serve as intra-list compensation for the wasted “prime ministerial” vote for Ibrahim al-Jaafari (100,000), the number one INA candidate in Baghdad. On the whole, it is probably ISCI which experiences the greatest change from 2005, when it managed to capture no less than 9 of its seats through compensatory arrangements.

Meanwhile, estimates for the recount process vary, with some talking of 10 days from the anticipated start next week. Iraqiyya has asked for close international monitoring, which seems reasonable given the contentious nature of the decision to do a recount. The Kurds have suggested that evidence of discrepancies in Baghdad should open the door for more comprehensive recounts elsewhere, whereas any party that loses out in Baghdad may be expected to appeal the result of the manual count. At any rate, we are now looking at a more likely certification date of early May.

Posted in Iraq's 2010 parliamentary election, Kirkuk and Disputed Territories, UIA dynamics | 28 Comments »