To understand the likely and unlikely outcomes of Iraq’s early parliamentary elections, scheduled for October, we need to understand who will run and who will vote. Although this early election was an answer to stimulate From the protest movement in October 2019, they are likely to be boycotted by the same activists who demanded it due to the unfavorable environment before the elections. The impact of boycotts will be mitigated by formal and informal coalitions that are formed among existing political parties but are more likely to produce results. Similar to the previous elections in 2018.
Among the leaders of the existing parties in Iraq, only former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Ammar al-Hakim formed an official coalition, The strength of the national state coalition. Al-Hakim, a cleric and politician, previously headed the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq before splitting from it to build up The National Wisdom Movement, claiming to be a “civilian” party and not an Islamist party.
Post-apocalyptic coalitions are expected to form between Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement and the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Massoud Barzani between Fatah alliance led by Hadi al-Amiri and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan led by Lahore and Bafel Talabani. While the former may characterize itself as an anti-Iranian alliance, both Sadr and Barzani enjoy close ties to Iran. Al-Sadr is a populist cleric with a sect-like following and a reputation for being politically inconsistent. In the 2018 Iraqi elections, the Sairoon Alliance won Most seats, largely due to lower voter turnout as a result of the boycott movement. Muhammad al-Halbousi, the current speaker of parliament, is expected to ally them. Such a coalition would be disastrous for the already dwindling freedom of expression in Iraq, as both Sadrists The Kurdistan Democratic Party is well known curtailment of freedoms.
For these well-established parties and big-name politicians, the new and smaller Iraq Constituencies One of the demands of the 2019 protests means they are less inclined to run for many candidates, but rather focus on districts where they can win. This resulted in a steep drop in the number of registered candidates from 7,178 in 2018 to 3,532 parties in 2021. The ability to win at the district level, but not at the district level, will discourage some party leaders from running for office. Although this is a positive development, it comes with repercussions including fear among activists that they will be easily targeted when running in smaller communities.
Indeed, the current Iraqi security environment represents one of the biggest obstacles to political participation. Since the end of the October 2019 protest movement, violence Against the activists turned from indiscriminate killing to targeted assassinations. One of the main unmet demands of the protest movement is justice for the protesters and activists who were killed. Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s failure to deliver justice sparked nationwide protests under the slogan “who killed me? The death of Karbala-based activist Ihab al-Wazni has inspired several new protest political parties in Iraq to announce a boycott of the elections. It is conceivable that these aspiring politicians might fear a A situation similar to MexicoWhere candidates are killed before the elections with impunity.
The Iraqi Communist Party joined the ranks of the boycotters, despite running alongside the Sadrist movement in the 2018 elections. In an article, the head of his ICP explained And to boycott the elections to strip the government of legitimacy. He writes that the scheduled elections do not reflect the protesters’ demands, in particular the required legal changes, nor the appropriate security environment, nor the independence of the Electoral Commission. Many party-based protests agreed With his argument, though, some are still debating the merits of a boycott and are considering running for office.
A distinction must be made between party protest and general boycott. Of course, protest-based parties and elite activists have a role to play in setting public discourse, but they are not the only ones who make public opinion. The main player is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Who might make a statement about an election that might encourage people to vote (as in 2005) or may leave the choice to them and thus create space for interruption (as in 2018). It would take severe public upheaval for Sistani to issue such a statement, and he would do so while balancing his credibility with his dedication to action. protection Existing legal and constitutional mechanisms. In addition to Sistani, the United Nations unexpectedly agreed To request the Iraqi government for more electoral assistance by providing observation on election day. They have expressed their intention to communicate their role to the Iraqi public, which is critical as many activists have expressed their demands. international censorship To ensure the integrity of the elections.
In a scenario in which both the public and protest parties boycott, the likely outcome is a split between the two main Shiite parties – the Sadrists and Fatah – and their Kurdish allies. This will lead to familiar negotiations over a compromise candidate as prime minister, which could result in either a weak independent (such as Adel Abdul-Mahdi or Mustafa Al-Kadhimi) or a politically supported person seen as too involved in the political system. The presidency, as is often the case, is likely to go to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan whose co-chair recently announced his assumption of the presidency. the support To re-elect President Barham Salih, the most politically influential candidate in Baghdad. Despite the expected electoral success of al-Halbousi in a district in Anbar, there was no speaker of parliament for more than one term and his predecessor, Salim al-Jubouri, could not even take his seat in parliament after that.
If there were no boycotts, the pieces of the cake for these established parties would be smaller and negotiations on the premiership could take longer. The results, unfortunately, will likely not be different for the three top positions. Where things will change is in Parliament, where new parties may be able to negotiate more. But what we can most hope for in such a scenario is gradual change, over years, through Parliament.
Until then, there is always a chance for protests in Iraq. As long as the old basic grievances (poor service, unemployment, corruption) and new grievances (no justice for the dead and declining freedom of speech) exist, any matching could ignite protests.