Iraq and Gulf Analysis

12 Iraqi Provinces Have New Governors; Anbar and Nineveh Hold Delayed Local Elections

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 20 June 2013 14:56

Things are not going too bad in local politics in Iraq: As of this week, all governorates that held provincial elections on 20 April have formed new local governments following certification of the final results in late May – hence more or less on time and in accordance with the legal framework. During the past few days, on top of the councils that were formed last week, new local governments have been seated in Karbala, Muthanna and Diyala.

As with the first batch of new governorate councils, a variety og government-formation dynamics prevailed in the last three councils. Karbala saw the emergence of a “political majority” government led by the State of Law alliance of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and various local blocs including that of the sensation from the 2009 elections, Yusuf al-Hububi. The Sadrists and ISCI remained on the sidelines. Conversely, in Muthanna, Maliki’s allies cut a deal with ISCI to keep the governor position for themselves whereas an ISCI politician became council speaker. Finally, Diyala saw a particularly interesting deal whereby Kurds and a local Iraqiyya list formed the government with the support of the Sadrists – but not the other Shiites with whom they had run on a joint pan-Shiite ticket (mainly State of Law councillors including several from Badr and Fadila).

This makes for the following table of all the new 12 councils elected on 20 April:


Beyond the broad three-way classification of “consensus” and “political majority” (pro-Maliki and anti-Maliki), there are further nuances in this picture. For example, in Basra, ISCI in principle held the votes to exclude Maliki and more or less dictated the terms whereby the popular governor from Maliki’s list was given the consolation prize of the council speakership. In Maysan, perhaps the governorship given to the Sadrists more than anything reflects a longstanding association between the Sadrists and that governorate.

In sum, the outcome of the local government formation is a mixed bag for Maliki. He keeps control of the shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala and consolidates his position in Mid-Euphrates governorates where ISCI was formerly strong. On the other hand, the loss of Baghdad and Basra must be painful, and with additional marginalisation experienced in Wasit and Diyala there should be plenty to think about as the parliamentary elections of 2014 approach.

Meanwhile, delayed elections for local councils in Anbar and Nineveh are being held today. Much is a stake in an area that is sandwiched between rising Sunni militancy in neighbouring Syria and a Baghdad government with which attempts at rapprochement have so far been quite ambiguous. Provisional results should be expected next week.

12 Responses to “12 Iraqi Provinces Have New Governors; Anbar and Nineveh Hold Delayed Local Elections”

  1. Sami Alaskary said

    Dear Reidar,
    Thank you for your good articles about Iraq. I wonder if you have any study to compare the results of the different shia parties in 2013 and that of 2009 elections to show how are the winners or who are the lossers. Thanks again. Sami

  2. Thanks for that Sami. I wrote about Maliki’s success in 2009 here:
    There are some reflections on his modest decline in 2013 as regards the popular vote here:

    It seems the subsequent coalition building process, in particular, has been key in giving Maliki a poorer result this time than in 2009.

  3. Sami Alaskary said

    I wanted to know was it good for Maliki and SOL to have Badir, Fadhila and Islaah(Jafferi) patries with them in their expanded coalition or was it bad.

  4. Well, with Fadila and Badr and Jaafari in his coalition, Maliki got fewer seats and more parties claiming the spoils. Also during the coalition formation processes, Badr reportedly was on the verge of defecting from Maliki in several governorates, including Basra. Very difficult to tell whether Maliki could have relied on those others getting marginalised if they ran on their own or not.

  5. AD said


    Thanks for your article.

    Is there a legal time frame within which provincial councils need to be formed, or any other deadline they needed to work to?

    Ali D

  6. As far as I can recollect the deadline was 15 days or so following certification (around 29 May I think) which may have prompted the outburst of activity last week. Have not double-checked but this isn’t bad as far as Iraq and deadlines go.

  7. A W said

    Reidar, not sure if I read this correctly but the on the table it states the Pan-Shiite list won? How could that be? Shia make up a minority in that governorate, them being pro Maliki is also very odd.

  8. Not sure if I am answering your question, but if you mean Diyala and Salahaddin, I simply put “pan-Shiite list” since they ran together. Among the 3 Shiite seat winners in Salahaddin there are 1 Sadrists and 1 Badrists, whereas in Diyala I have identified 1 Daawa, 3 Badr, 1 Fadila, 2 Sadrists, 1 Jaafari among the 12 Shiite seats.

  9. Nicasso said


    I have spent the past hour reading various entries on this blog, some insightful stuff and good lively debate.

    On AW’s point: I see where he (she?) is coming from. To me it seems odd that in a predominantly Sunni province, indeed the former regime’s back yard – and where Maliki voiced his strongest opposition to federalism – the newly formed PC is described as “Majoritarian – pro Maliki”. What have I missed?!

  10. Thanks Nicasso.

    On the governor of Salahaddin being pro-Maliki, his bloc has among other things helped Maliki at various junctures when there was conflict over federalism (some wanted a federal region in Salahaddin) and de-Baathification. The Nujayfi bloc (Mutahhidun) are among the critics of the governor and his bloc.

  11. Dan said

    Hi Reidar VIsser,

    I was wondering if you had any literature or will in the near future – breaking down the governors and the council chariman per province? Who they are, what party they are affiliated with (ISCI or SOL) and if you could provide that information in an analysis piece or help me find it.

    Thanks in advance.

  12. Hey Dan, I had hoped the above table provided that? Anbar and Nineveh haven’t been formed yet because of the delay in the vote and hence the delay in certification of the results.

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