The Iraqi Parliamentary Elections that were held on the 12th of May 2018 surprised many Iraq-focused observers. Although the Iraqi High Electoral Commission (IHEC) has not released the complete results, preliminary results were released on Sunday night.
While many expected the incumbent the Nasr Coalition, led by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, to win in what many envisaged would be a landslide, the Sa’iroun Coalition headed by Muqtada al-Sadr came in first in many provinces. Despite these gains, the Sa’iroun Coalition cannot form a majority government alone, as it does not meet the 165 seat threshold.
“The Sa’iroun Coalition’s win was not overwhelming in the sense that it exceeded half of the members of parliament. Therefore, we cannot talk about the fall of the traditional leaders,” said Azizi Jabr Shayal, an academic and researcher.
As a result, the Sa’iroun Coalition will have to negotiate with other coalitions in order to make up the majority bloc in parliament.
Although the Shi’a factions collectively have the majority of the seats, the political differences between the different factions and parties will not allow for a larger “Shi’a” alliance to form.
Observers have noted that this may be the first time that the post of Prime Minister will not be filled by an individual from the Dawa Party, the party that incumbent-PM Haider al-Abadi, and former-PMs Nouri al-Maliki and Ibrahim al-Ja’afari, belonged to.
“Even if we go to the next possibility which is the Fatah Coalition aligning with the State of Law Coalition and the Victory Coalition, which would represent an Iranian alignment, there would be no participation by the Dawa Party,” said Ahmad al-Abyadh, a political analyst.
For other analysts, the sidelining of many parties does not mean the fall of traditional leaders from power. “The traditional leaders will remain and if we mention names, then Maliki in addition to al-Hakim, Iyad Allawi, and the Kurdish parties will retain relevance” said Shayal.
With the final results yet to be released, the coalitions are merely flirting with the idea of forming blocs, with nothing tangible yet.