Iraqi Elections: Post-Election Coalition Possibilities
An informed reader writes:
‘ “Moreover, a group of Sadrists, the Messengers, ran separately from the UIA in the south and are getting 3% of the seats.”
There is no such group in the IECI release in English. [Some have suggested that it might be the “Progressive” party listed by IECI, which seems to fit the description.]
A not unimportant point, because I thought there might be some of that going on, and a close look at the Lists in Arabic might be telling.
With a turnout of 11 million, the “national average” threshhold for “compensatory seats” would be 40,000, with respect to which few may qualify. The consequence of that would be that there may be a significant number of “national seats” allotted to the Lists with the largest national totals. The point of the “compensatory seat” exercise was to permit small groups to be represented in the Council of Representatives. To the extent that does not happen, the exercise was a waste of time and a needless (or imperfectly crafted) complexity. Because of the wide margins in some southern Provinces, List 555 may receive a number of “national seats.” That is part of the methodology for the 130 figure being reported.
A complexity which I have not yet figured out is how the out-of-country votes are to be included in the “national seat” allotments.
Chalabi’s INC received fewer than 9,000 votes in Baghdad.
He probably will rise again. Allawi could be finished.
Who will lead a “national unity” opposition to List 555?
Step one is for the Allawi and Sunni groups to reach blocking power of 92 votes, which they probably cannot do without the PUK/KDP. Can there be an ICF (Iraqi Islamic Party plus two) alliance with the PUK/KDP without an understanding with respect to Kirkuk? My hunch is that the Sunnis now leading are only gradually understanding the reality of their position, and that, when they focus on Kirkuk and the Kirkuk field, they may understand the power and wisdom behind an equivalent of SCIRI’s proposed Southern Regional Government. When that happens (if it has not already), it is possible that there will be a real cause for a “civil war,” but it will not be between the Sunni and Shia.
If List 555 ultimately has 130 seats directly, and a few alliances to reach 138, no such “national unity” slate is possible, unless joined or led by List 555. It should be remembered that when President Bush called Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim apparently to ask for flexibility with respect to “federalism,” the answer apparently was the equivalent of “no,” although he may have said with great curtesy something like he would see what could be done. One can only imagine what he thought then and later, given the history of Bush pere in 1991 and the treatment received from the CPA. If there were no concessions with respect to “federalism” despite the valiant effort of Ambassador Khalilzad and even Presidential reinforcement, what would the consideration for such concessions be now? Will the threat of boycotts and even, perhaps, civil war work? It can be argued that that is a problem for the US Government to solve.
Vice President Mahdi has been proposed by press reports for a “national unity” role. SCIRI’s leadership may have other things in mind. Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim said at the Washington Post that the next government would be in “safe hands.” Hadi Ameri said in Najaf, “What have we ever received from the central government but death?” The best way to assure that that will not happen to the Shia again is to control the central government, most especially the Ministry of Interior. If SCIRI and the Badr Organization do not control the Ministry of Interior, second best is a Southern Regional Government and a strong militia.
Of course, List 555 could fragment, but I doubt that it will. This is the main chance for the Iraqi Shia, and everyone from Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani down knows it.
In a democracy there is no right to power except at the will of the majority. If there is to be enforced “affirmative action,” the provisions of the Constitution must be so interpreted by legislation.
I still believe that there is little leverage to be derived from the 2/3 vote required for the Presidency Council. “Inclusiveness” will occur only at the pleasure (and through satisfactory deals) of the List 555 leaderships, and the first three on that List are Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, Prime Minister Jaafari and a representative of the Badr Organization. I am skeptical about the “conventional wisdom” that Jaafari will go quietly into the sunset. Certainly, inclusion of Allawi in the list of candidates for Prime Minister was clearly wrong. It seems likely that, if it is to be Vice President Mahdi, he will not stray to far from the views of the first three, tempered only by those of Moqtada al-Sadr.
There are now two (reported) documents. Moqtada al-Sadr’s Pact of Honor and the statement of the Allawi and Sunni parties made today. Whatever document there may have been between List 169 and the PUK/KDP is, I believe, no longer operative.
It is not overly simplified to argue that the future of Iraq is in the hands of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim and Moqtada al-Sadr. I do not have the text of the Pact of Honor, but it is reported in effect that a Southern Regional Government is to be “postponed.” Perhaps until Kirkuk is resolved or in connection therewith. ‘