Iraq and Gulf Analysis

The Iraqi Parliament Elects Its New Speakership

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 20:05

Claims and counter-claims continue to dominate Iraqi media concerning the military battle against ISIS in the north of the country, with reports about renewed action around Tikrit today. But whatever the exact situation may be in Tikrit, the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad today scored a very significant victory in the battle against ISIS: The election of a new parliament speakership in accordance with the relevant constitutional provisions.

The vote today was historical also for reasons beyond the ongoing struggle against ISIS. Above all, it is the first time in Iraq’s post-2003 history that Iraqi deputies have followed the constitution to the letter and held a separate vote on the parliament speaker and his two deputies. Previously, the speaker vote has been subjected to more far-reaching package deals also covering the presidency and the premiership. Indeed, as late as during the first session of the new Iraqi parliament just 2 weeks ago, Sunnis and Kurds demanded that the Shiites decide on their premier candidate before a vote on the speaker. Now, after considerable pressure from the outside (and in particular from the Shiite clergy), that knot has been disentangled. Hopefully it will all have positive and liberating side effects for Iraq’s political process.

The votes on the new speaker and his two deputies were in themselves interesting, although not much is known about voting patterns because of the secrecy (paper ballots) with which the votes were conducted. Firstly, Salim al-Jibburi (originally of the Sunni Islamist Iraqi Islamic Party from Diyala and currently part of a wider Sunni alliance headed by Usama al-Nujayfi, the former parliament speaker), won the speakership itself with an impressive 194 votes, far more than the required absolute majority of 165 votes. His challenger, Shuruq al-Abaji (a female MP from a smaller secular bloc) got only 19 votes, whereas 60 blank or invalid votes seemed to indicate some sort of protest.

The first deputy vote was more dramatic, with Ahmed Chalabi mounting a surprise internal Shiite challenge to the official Shiite alliance candidate, Haydar al-Abbadi of the Maliki list. There was also a third candidate, Faris Yusuf Juju, yet again a secularist. Abbadi did win the competition with Chalabi 149-107 but that was not enough for an absolute majority. Chalabi then withdrew and Abbadi won the second vote with 188 votes, though 76 deputies voted blank.

The second deputy vote was more of an acclamation, with the Kurdish candidate from the Gorran party, Aram Sheikh Mohammad, gaining 171 votes and with 70 blank votes.

Not all of this is easy to interpret. The blank votes seem to have been quite consistently in the range of 60 to 70 deputies, though this has not been tied to any particular bloc. The bomb represented by the intra-Shiite Chalabi challenge to Abbadi may have been an attempt at testing the waters for a forthcoming premier candidacy and his ability to attract votes outside the Shia alliance, although it has been suggested that it is difficult to compare the Abbadi-Chalabi struggle with a future Maliki-Chalabi struggle because Abbadi has more friends than Maliki outside his own faction. At any rate, it was quite impressive for Maliki’s coalition to gain 149 votes for Abbadi  in today’s heated political atmosphere, where the advance of ISIS has been so marked lately that it could now be hurting Maliki more than it is helping him. Abbadi was nominated as recently as this morning, after Humam Hammudi of ISCI had been considered the frontrunner for the first deputy speaker post previously.

Perhaps the most important result of today’s vote was the leap of faith that Iraqi politicians conducted despite wavering to the last minute. Shiites and Kurds voted for the Sunni Islamist Jibburi as speaker without any guarantees regarding the deputy speakers – not to speak about the president or the PM. This in turn could have positive side effects, and hopefully the president will be duly elected in the same manner and with adherence to the constitutional timeline – 30 days from the first parliament meeting on 1 July.

16 Responses to “The Iraqi Parliament Elects Its New Speakership”

  1. bb said

    Reidar -b is it possible to give us some bio details on al Jibburi particularly as to his role as a Sunni islamist and membership of a party that as I recall was the political offshoot of the Association of Muslim Scholars during the insurgency?

  2. Jibburi was part of IIP which was always the Sunni party most willing to work within the system post-2003. Participated in drafting of constitution and first Maliki govt etc when others boycotted. AMS far more militant. Much later, a conflict with Maliki emerged circa 2009 when Ayad al-Samarraie of IIP replaced Mahmud al-Mashadani as parliament speaker against the wishes of Maliki. Following IIP’s near disintegration and the almost wholesale adoption of its members into Nujayfi’s lists since 2010 the level of conflict between Jibburi and Maliki intensified. It was suggested that the attempt to exclude Jibburi from the latest general election on legal grounds was politically motivated.

  3. bb said

    Thanks R for being so prompt with the bio. You are the champion! Do you have anything you can add on Jibburi’s personal history and in particular his political standpoints on various issues insofar as they are on record!
    For eg how close would he be to Hashimi?

  4. Hashemi left IIP ahead of the 2010 elections and relations with Jibburi soured.

  5. News article purporting to identify absentee MP’s :

    Blocks Allawi and al-Mutlaq and Barzani miss

    Wed Jul 16 2014 03:31 | (Voice of Iraq) – Add Comment – absent deputies coalition of national, led by Iyad Allawi, Arabic, led by Saleh al-Mutlaq and the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by President of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, to attend the third session open which was held yesterday (Tuesday) for the selection of the Speaker and his deputies of the legislative session third, while the number of MPs attendance of the blocks Other deputies to 250 of the total 328 deputies representing the Iraqi parliament seats.

  6. Well that’s interesting, though the article erroneously estimates overall attendance at 250 – it was around 274 – so there may be some reliability issues.

  7. Interesting analysis, but link is bad : The Iraqi Prime Minister’s appeal to the Federal Court is the last resort

    Chalabi cornered Al-Maliki in danger of losing the parliamentary majority
    Dr. Osama Mahdi

    The Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, a blow to Nouri al-Maliki’s assurances its parliamentary majority of his third term in the Presidency of the Government of 165 votes plus one of the total votes of the House’s 328.. As demonstrated for parliamentarians and Iraqi citizens who have followed the Parliament session for the election of the Presidency of the body on television directly to Al-Maliki possesses no only 149 votes in what could be any rival excellence and winning the Presidency of the Government.

    Stunned, Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi representatives in their general election of the Presidency Wednesday to run for the post of first Deputy Chairman of Parliament lawmaker Haidar Al-Abadi’s rival candidate the State of law coalition led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, adding that his candidacy is not any personal political bloc, although it belongs to a citizen of the Islamic Supreme Council Ammar al-Hakim and not embarrassing them in front of the Shiite National Alliance, one of the political components.

    As stunned Chalabi, his candidacy, which was an expression of a clever political manoeuvre President Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, the Shiite Alliance said the Coalition compound on the nomination of Al-Abadi and not Chalabi. The vote was won on Maliki’s coalition candidate Al-149 votes to 107 to llgelbi with a third candidate for the Civic Democratic Alliance and the Christian Knight jajou on 6 and 13 paper vote invalid.. A failure of any of the three candidates obtain the required majority of the votes of 165 plus one requiring voting but Chalabi withdrew from the race in favour of Al-Abbadi, who won the post of first Deputy Speaker after his run in person.

    What’s behind the sudden candidacy llgelbi
    Ilaf moved question to close to Chalabi, on why he’s running, he wanted to rebut assertions that Al-Maliki repeated on each occasion that it has a parliamentary majority that would enable him to win the Presidency of the new Government revealed that it possesses no only 149 votes is fewer than required to win any parliamentary vote in the future.

    He added that the strong competition for Maliki, including the Shia voted llgelbi and 107 votes, it would enable a competitor to Maliki win it especially if national blocks joined led by Iyad Allawi (21 seats) and Arabic, led by Saleh Al-mutlaq (9 Deputies) did not attend the Parliament session yesterday and did not participate in the vote to protest their quotas in the distribution of posts in. If joined to vote against Al-Maliki.

    For his part, Jaafari commented on Chalabi’s candidacy, saying he wanted to communicate a specific message already arrived in reference to Chalabi maneuvering revealed the number of votes that can be received in any vote on the Presidency of the Government do any other political figure. It also revealed the interventions made the Ja’fari and MP Hanan Fatlawi Maliki’s Coalition on the sharp differences between the Shiite blocs and the status of “mistrust and suspicion,” where supporters of Al-Maliki used the terms “treachery and treason” in commenting on Chalabi’s step.
    The new House speaker, Salim Al-jubouri has adjournment of the third House held today, during which the election of the Presidency Council on Wednesday announced the opening of nominations for the post of President of the Republic starting Wednesday for three days to implement the constitutional provision concerning the election of the President of the Republic of Iraq.

    New to maneuver the Maliki
    The official said Maliki’s information on the decision of the Federal Supreme Court stipulates that the State of law Coalition is the largest bloc in the Shiite Alliance, which has 96 deputies so that this entitles his coalition nominated him for a third is. But the source said that even in this case, Maliki’s rivals from other Shiite powers in particular blocs Ammar al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr could in alliance with Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers collect majority to form the largest bloc of the guarantor for the post of head of the new Government comfortably.

    The source said Al-Jaafari, the Shiite Alliance had been informed that Al-Maliki’s State of law Coalition registration to the Federal Court that the largest parliamentary bloc instead of the same coalition in an attempt to ensure that the text of the Court’s interpretation of the largest cluster being tasked with forming a Government on his behalf. The Court’s decision raised the dissatisfaction of some political parties fraudulently obtain enhanced immigration status within or outside the Shia Coalition, finding in it a coup d’etat on the democratic process. Therefore, these parties are in the process of forming an Alliance is the Supreme Council and the Sadrists and the Kurds and the Sunnis and to expel the Al-Maliki Coalition out of the political equation.
    The source added that the national coalition, which includes Sadr and Hakim and Chalabi blocks others have three candidates to replace Al-Maliki are Adel Abdul Mahdi Baquer Jabr Al-Zubaidi leading Supreme Council and Ahmad Chalabi, head of National Conference.
    Al-Maliki was announced on the 4th of this month he will abdicate “start” on the candidacy for the post of head of the new Government.. Stressing that the State of law Coalition is the parliamentary majority in the new Parliament.
    For its part, was Deputy for the State of law Coalition Rehab alabouda Deputy Ahmed Chalabi has split the Shia Coalition row unit with his candidacy for the post of the first Deputy Speaker of the House said in a press statement today that the State of law Coalition MP Haider Al-Ibadi gained the legitimacy of the nomination through the Shia Coalition to his name for the post of first Vice-President of the Coalition but share Chalabi’s candidacy split the unit characteristics.
    According to the split for positions in Iraq since 2003, the Presidency of the Government be Shia, per component, the component’s Sunni Parliament and the Presidency to the Kurdish component.

    The results of the recent parliamentary elections held in April made lists three major Shiite in Iraq: Maliki’s State of law bloc and the Liberal Party led by Al-Sadr and Al-Hakim’s ‘ block by 96, 34 and 29 seats, respectively, for a total of 159 seats in a Parliament of 328 m. also got the Kurdistan Alliance, the six components of the 54 seats and the coalition are United (Sunni) led by Osama Al-nujaifi to 23 seats and the national (secular) coalition led by Iyad Allawi to 21 seats and Arabic (Sunni) party led by Saleh Al-mutlaq 9 seats.

    See more at:

  8. Article seems deeply flawed. Author apparently trying to say Abbadi-Chalabi vote shows Maliki cannot reach 165 but then again in runoff State of Law candidate (Abbadi) did get more than 165 votes (around 180).
    Also repeats stupid mistake common in Iraqi press of describing the absolute majority as “165 plus one”. 165 is the absolute majority, period.

  9. Salah said

    Please RV.
    Are you in believed and thinks, Nuri Al- Maliki have the majority for his insistent for third term or it’s his own delusional thoughts?

  10. At the moment Maliki doesn’t have an absolute majority, maybe around 120 votes. But then again no one else has. Until someone else has a majority Maliki remains PM.

  11. edward dennis said

    Anyone have an idea about political blocs having ” points ” or a ” points system ” as mentioned in the following article ?

    Iraqi lawmakers are dismissing Maliki competition run for the presidency of the new government

    2014/7/17 01:59:23 PM

    BAGHDAD / Wi-News

    Iraqi lawmakers said Thursday that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will be out of competition at the head of the new government and the rivalry between Kurdish Barham Salih Najm al-Din and cream on the new Iraqi president during the consultations that take place before the current session of parliament next Wednesday.

    It is expected to put forward the name of the candidate for the post of President of the new Iraqi parliament during a session on Wednesday to take his turn, commissioned by the head of the largest bloc in parliament to form a new government on the background of the results of the parliamentary elections held in Iraq on April 30 / April.

    There is a large block in the Iraqi parliament compete State of Law bloc led by Nouri al-Maliki, which exceeds the number of 100 deputies, deputy to compete for the formation of the next Iraqi government.

    Said Nuri al-Maliki Iraqi Prime Minister outgoing in his weekly “other channels that will come after the election of the chairman of the parliament is elected President of the Republic,

    which is the first of its functions to maintain the sovereignty of Iraq as passed by the Constitution and if he is not a believer in this unit can not be accepted, and I hope that a candidate who believes in in this direction and refuse if it contradicts his or non-believer in this unit. ”

    And exceeded the Iraqi parliament session last Tuesday obstacle naming him president was elected MP Salim al his head on the mass united for reform and the election of Haider al-Abadi of the rule of law and the first deputy prosecutor Aram Sheikh Mohammad, a member of mass change in the Kurdistan Alliance as second vice.

    The MP said the bright Naji, a member of the Liberal block of the Sadrist movement in the National Alliance, said that “Iraq’s interests require the replacement of Nuri al-Maliki, not to renew it for a third term and the nomination of a prime minister from the National Alliance needs to admissibility of all the political blocs and religious authority.”

    He added that “what we want in the coming period is the formation of a consensus government in line for resolving all the problems encountered in their work and the distribution of positions big as what I got any political bloc of parliamentary seats

    and the position of first vice-presidency of the Council of Representatives of the share of a coalition of state law and on behalf of the presidents and ministers stages will be the share of the masses of the free and the citizen, and this distribution was according to the points of each bloc within the National Alliance. ”

    He stated that “the Prime Minister will be the share of the coalition of state law, provided that the candidate Nuri al-Maliki and the agreed within the National Alliance and within other political blocs and that the points system will be deducted from the State of Law bloc will not qualify for government positions again.”

    Naji said, “The State of Law bloc would only post of first deputy head of the House of Representatives by virtue of their points that Ststnzvha Presidency of the Council of Ministers and not on behalf of the state of law in the Council of Ministers next nor the presidency also that the distribution of ministries was not looking in earnest between the components of the National Alliance, but will leave for later.”

    The MP said Hassan sari, a member bloc citizen in the National Alliance, “The National Alliance agreed with all the block, including a coalition of state law, to provide an alternative candidate for al-Maliki early next week and there is a rejection and a national of all the political blocs to take on al-Maliki for a third term and that the political consensus reached to offer an alternative to al-Maliki for the position of head the next government. ”

    He added that “the position of the Vice-Presidency of the Republic and the Prime Minister will be the share of other blocks within the National Alliance is the state of law and that the debate is going on within the National Alliance several names of candidates to fill the position but has not been resolved yet and need time in order to provide people agreed that the post of deputy prime minister will be from Share block the citizen. ”

    The MP said Bakhtiar Shaways member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the Kurdistan Alliance, said that “the Kurdistan Alliance will resolve the ordered him to nominate its candidate during the next two days before the hearing next Wednesday,

    and that the position of President of the Republic is the share of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Jalal Talabani, and so far the meetings and discussions are ongoing in order to determine the candidate before Wednesday the next. ”

    He pointed out that the names put forward for this position are both Barham Salih Najm al-Din and cream.

  12. Salah said

    BasNews, Washington

    In a joint hearing with the foreign affairs committee on Tuesday, former US ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey stressed that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cannot stay in power.

    “To achieve our goals, to carry out the policy that the president laid out, several things must happen very quickly. First of all, we do need a new government, and this government cannot include Prime Minister Maliki at the helm,” he said.

    “He has lost all credibility with the Kurds and with the Sunni Arab population, and his own performance as commander in chief is one of the reasons why the military did so badly. For many reasons, Iraq needs a new prime minister. That is the most important thing for turning this situation around, but it has to be done quickly.”

    Former U.S. Ambassador: Iraq needs a new prime minister

  13. Ali Sh said

    Reidar, pardon my question here that belongs to another blog of yours from February this year, in critique of an article that favored Biden’s plan in dividing Iraq. You have made this chillingly prophetic statement :

    “It seems far more realistic to consider a Sunni canton in Iraq as a potential ISIL asset and a factor that might cement the ascendancy of ISIL in the Syrian opposition.”

    The question is; how could you see that potential by the time most of the world expressed shock, not to mention the Iraqi Security Forces who apparently were taken by surprise?

    Thanks in advance.

  14. Edward, there is an informal point system for leadership positions, i.e. parties within the Shiite alliance are supposedly given points based on electoral performance and then their scores are divided up by what posts they are given, for example top positions (PM, speaker, president & deputies), key ministries (finance, defence, foreign etc.) and ministries of lesser importance. It is, however, for guidance only and not to be taken quite as literally as described in your article.

    Salah, it is certainly not Mr. Jeffrey that decides who will be the next Iraqi PM.

    Ali, the situation is certainly becoming more worrisome but there still appears to be some Sunni resistance against ISIS. Though I’m worried that the majority of the Iraqi government’s efforts north of Baghdad seems focused on areas with Shiite minorities. It needs to be more comprehensive in order to check the advance of ISIS.

  15. edward dennis said

    Thank you Mr. Visser. I have found a reference to the ” RV ” mentioned by Salah and the subject of unanswered query by me. It appears to mean the ” revaluation of the Iraqi dinar “. Is that prospect a matter upon which you , Mr. Visser , have opined historically ?

  16. The reference by Salah was in that case simply to my initials and I didn’t think it needed explanation. The Iraqi dinar revaluation business is a separate genre of particularly uninformed Iraq commentary driven by the master narrative that the raison d’etre of Iraqi politics is to revalue the Iraqi dinar so that Americans who bought lots of it will get rich. Comments along those lines will tend to go unpublished here as they are mostly singularly useless.

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