Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for October 10th, 2010

Iraqiyya and the “Surprise” Endorsement of Abd al-Mahdi: Some Legal Problems

Posted by Reidar Visser on Sunday, 10 October 2010 12:08

To some extent it has been in the making for weeks, but at the same time yesterday’s apparent endorsement of ISCI’s Adel Abd al-Mahdi as premier candidate by Iraqiyya spokesman Haydar al-Mulla should raise eyebrows.

According to Mulla’s logic, Iraqiyya can nominate Abd al-Mahdi because it has the right to nominate the premier in its capacity as the largest bloc in parliament. So far, one can follow the logic, since Iraqiyya does not recognise the idea of post-election bloc formation and hence does not recognise (well, most of the time) the pan-Shiite National Alliance that was formed after the elections.

The problem, though comes to the second part of the argument. Mulla says Abd al-Mahdi is nominated as the “candidate of the Iraqi National Alliance”, the ISCI/Sadr-dominated half of the would be all-Shiite National Alliance. The semantics of this argument reveal the contradiction: According to the constitution the premier nominee shall be the “nominee of the biggest bloc in parliament”:

مرشح الكتلة النيابية الاكثر عدداً

So Abd al-Mahdi must be the nominee of Iraqiyya. He cannot possibly be the nominee of the Iraqi National Alliance, which is the term used by Mulla:

وقال المتحدث باسم  القائمة حيدر الملا  إن القائمة تدعم ترشيح عبد المهدي لمنصب رئيس الوزراء كمرشح للائتلاف الوطني

This is so because under no circumstances does INA satisfy the criteria for being the biggest bloc in parliament; in fact, with the Sadrists and others choosing to define themselves as NA instead, the rump INA is probably not more than a dozen deputies or so.

But Abd al-Mahdi can of course be the nominee of Iraqiyya. Any Iraqi citizen that satisfies the age requirements etc. can; it does not matter whether they come from a big or small party or no party at all as long as they are unequivocally the sole candidate of the biggest bloc.  That last point is pretty important, i.e. Ayad Allawi, until now the Iraqiyya candidate, would have to give up his candidacy for Abd al-Mahdi to be the nominee of Iraqiyya.

The more fundamental challenge for Iraqiyya is whether the rest of the parliament will now accept its more narrow interpretation of article 76 on what constitutes the biggest bloc. Ultimately, then, with the current political configuration, the key to success still lies in convincing the Kurds that an alliance with Iraqiyya is preferable to a Maliki-led government. Identifying Abd al-Mahdi as the Iraqiyya candidate for PM could be a step in that direction, but it is unlikely to be the decisive step.

Posted in Iraq's 2010 parliamentary election, Iraqi constitutional issues | 35 Comments »