Politics & Economics

The ups and downs of the Iraqi elections following the results


The make-up of the Iraqi Parliament has changed significantly after the recent elections, with some parties losing influence, and others gaining more power in the country's political arena.

Many in Iraq are still reeling from the fallout of the 2018 Iraqi elections. Whilst normal life has returned with the end of the elections, the political scene looks to have experienced a seismic shift. Muqtada al-Sadr‘s Saairun bloc shocked observers both inside and outside Iraq by winning the most votes in the elections. His party is set to be the largest in parliament for the first time.

The Iraqi elections were characterised by record low turnout, caused by an effective boycotting campaign and widespread dissatisfaction with a political class many Iraqis see as corrupt and inept. According to the Iraq Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the turnout for the elections was as low as 44%. This represents a considerable drop from the 2014 elections, which saw turnout reach 60%.

The Saairun Alliance managed to capitalise on the disillusionment of many Iraqis, with Muqtada al-Sadr, the spiritual guide of the bloc, styling himself as a reformist leader determined to bring forth change and root out corruption. Sadr allied himself with a number of civil activists and even formed an unlikely partnership with the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) in a bid to win the support of the disillusioned.

Beyond this, these elections have shown that Iraqis are no longer buying into the sect-based identity politics that has characterised the political scene in Iraq since 2003. The Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, and his Nasr Coalition managed to win a significant amount of votes in Sunni-majority areas, even coming first in the province of Nineveh, which only four years ago fell to ISIS.

The fact that a Shia Prime Minister would do well in these areas was, until recently, unimaginable. The fact that he did so well shows how far Iraq has come in rooting out sectarian hatred in the country. Therefore, despite the challenges that lie ahead, there are signs that the country is moving in the right direction, However, the new government must take active measures to ensure that people do not lose hope in the political process in the country.