On the 12th of this month, Iraqi voters will go to the polls to vote to elect their representatives in the next parliament .Unlike the previous elections, these elections are of unique importance because they come immediately after the announcement of the victory over the organization “Da’ash” in Iraq. The government, which will be produced by the next parliament, will continue to defend Iraq against the return of terrorism, formulate a security plan to eliminate the threats posed by the terrorist organization ISIS, and devise an economic plan to accomplish the necessary reforms as Iraq’s budget for 2018 indicates a deficit of about 13 trillion dinars which shows clearly an economic decline facing Iraq, and thus, economic reforms are of paramount importance to the next government.
The 2018 parliamentary elections are Iraq’s second elections since the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, and it is the fourth elections since the US invasion in 2003 to elect 328 members of the parliament, which in turn elects both prime minister and president of the republic. Seventy-one seats are the share of Baghdad, 71 parliamentary seat is the share of Baghdad according to its population, including 17 seats reserved for women, and there are two seats reserved for minority quota of Christians and Sabians. Baghdad is distinguished from other provinces, a home to about seven and a half million people, by religious, ethnic and national mix. So all religious, secular and nationalist parties have a chance to compete for about a quarter of the parliamentary seats but the largest competition will be among the Sunni and Shiite parties.
From here we realize the closer the date of Iraqi parliamentary elections, the more intense the electoral competition noting that Baghdad is considered the most important province of Iraq’s provinces where 2188 candidates compete in Baghdad alone, within 41 political alliances and parties. As they consider it the biggest weight of the electoral competition in view of the large number of voters in it, in addition to it is considered the capital and all eyes are on it. It is the capital of Iraq and all the heads of blocs, especially the large blocs usually nominate themselves in Baghdad, considering that the most seats in the parliamentary session is about Baghdad as the most important provinces of Iraq in terms of the population. The allocation of 71 seats in the capital, Baghdad, opened the door dramatically and frantically among the political forces to compete for these seats and the more access to many seats in Baghdad as the entity approach to the formation of the largest bloc in the House of Representatives. Whoever wins Baghdad, it will have opened a big electoral gap in terms of elections, so most of the political forces are competing for Baghdad to win the largest possible seats. ”
The reasons for the fierce election battle and harsh tests by the political forces taking part in these elections can be monitored amid sharp divisions. The coalition of “al- Nasir ” led by Prime Minister Haider Abadi, “coalition of the Dawlat al-Qanun – the state of law” led by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and the alliance, the coalition of ” Saroon towards reform” led by Muqtada al-Sadr, and the movement of ” al-Hikma (wisdom) ” led by Ammar al-Hakim noting that they are traditional Shiite forces competing for the votes of the Shiite population. Shiite parties are experiencing the most severe test in terms of the deep differences among its components, and after they were unified in the elections in one alliance, or through several alliances, but compatible to unite after the elections, but the current differences seem wide , the party, “al-Dawa,” which holds the post of prime minister , which is the most powerful position in the country , it was divided into wings between al-Abadi and al- Maliki and the Sadrist movement , known for its opposition with Shiite parties , chose this time to go too far toward alliance with Communist Party . For the first time, a new Shiite alliance, the “al-Fatih” led by Hadi al-Amiri, was involved. The coalition is a coalition of Shiite factions close to Iran which seeks to invest its popularity in the battles against the organization “ISIS”, and also its influence in the neighborhoods and regions through offices within the neighborhoods of Shiite and Sunni. Each of these Shiite forces submitted (137) candidates, referring to the fierce competition between them on the seats of the capital The Shiite parties will engage in fierce competition in Baghdad’s Shiite neighborhoods of Sadr City, Husseiniya, Shaab north of the capital, Baladiyat, Obeidi, Baghdad al-Jadidah (new) , Zafaraniya east of the capital, al-Elam, al-Shirtah , Abu Dasheir, south of the capital, Kadhimiya, Al Hurriya, Al Shula, Al Ataifiya and Al Washash, west of the capital.
On the level of Sunni competition in Baghdad, it is centered around the alliance of “alQarar” led by Vice President Osama Najafi, and a coalition of “Watanya ” led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi where important Sunni parties allied with him , including the Labor Party led by Parliament Speaker Salim Jubouri, al-Arabiya Coalition Led by politician Saleh al-Mutlaq , and Baghdad Alliance, headed by Dr. Jamal al-Karbouli and Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, along with traditional Sunni forces, noting that there new alliances have emerged seeking to compete in the Sunni neighborhoods, most notably the ” Tadhamen (solidarity ) ” coalition led by the well-known tribal figure Waddah al-Sadid, each of whom also submitted lists of 137 candidates. The parties compete in the Sunni neighborhoods of Al-Ghazaliya, Al-Adl, Al-Jami’a, Al-Khadra, Al-Mansour, Al-Yarmouk, Amariya, Al-Jihad neighborhood west of the capital, Adhamiya, al-Salikh Sab’Abkar , al-Saydiya , al-Dourah , Arab Jboor , Hour Rijab , south of the capital , after being unified in the previous elections, secular and civil forces and parties have been split in the upcoming elections . And the great difference was occurred between the movement “Tamdun” led by MP Faiq Sheikh Ali, and the Communist Party, and the dispute is due to the alliance of the Communist Party with the Sadrist Islamic movement in a unique phenomenon in the Iraqi political scene, while the “democratic civil alliance” led by Ghassan al-Attiyah decided to enter independently in the elections. The rise of popular criticism against Islamic parties, and the rise of popularity of secular and civil forces and currents after the popular demonstrations that led against ruling authority since the summer of 2015, prompted the Islamic forces and parties to change their names towards new titles bearing civil names. For example, the “civil party,” which is participating in the elections strongly through the broad campaign led by Hamad al-Musawi, is in fact a well-known ally of the “coalition of the rule of law –Dawlat al- Qanun ” led by Nuri al-Maliki. Despite the deep differences between the Kurdish parties and the decline in popularity in Baghdad and the rest of the provinces after the organization of the independence referendum on secession in September last year, but also decided to compete in Baghdad, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan participates with 10 candidates, while the Prominent Kurdish MP Alaa Talabani participates in the capital elections within the coalition, “Baghdad.” The ” New Generation” movement led by businessman Sashwar Abdul Wahid, known for his opposition to the main Kurdish parties in the Kurdistan region, also decided to compete in Baghdad and participate through (27) candidates for the votes of the Kurdish population in Baghdad and also counting on the votes of voters of the capital of Sunnis and Shiites who wish to choose new parties and forces and not old ones . The Christians are running in Baghdad through six political entities to compete for one seat allocated to them according to the quota system. These are the Chaldean Assyrian Syriac People’s Assembly, the Beth Nahrin National Union, the movement of Syriac Rally , the Chaldean Alliance, The Rafidain coalition, “and finally the” Babylonian movement “supported by the factions” Hashed al-Shaabi ( popular crowd) . “The same is true for the Sabean religious minority, which has one seat in Baghdad according to the quota system, and is contested by six religious figures, some of whom are supported by large parties, hoping to win the seat.
Thus, these elections witnessed the phenomenon of “political transformation”, which was more clearly defined in the current parliamentary session, but the phenomenon included figures from various political trends in Iraq, the Kurdish parties and blocs were not far from them, the former leadership of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Alaa Talabani joined to the Coalition of Baghdad this time, led by the Sunni politician and former House Speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani . As did the head of the Kurdish Coalition «al-Taghier (change) » in the Federal House of Representatives Sarwa Abdul Wahid, who joined the list of Prime Minister Haider Abadi «al-Nasir», and then withdrew from it at the last minute.
Observers of political affairs attribute the phenomenon of “political transition” to the turmoil and instability that have characterized the political process since 2003, as well as the weakness of political parties and traditions after the hegemony of the Baathist regime over public life for more than three decades. Others believe that the “political transition” is linked to the phenomenon of the sharp divisions and schisms experienced by the majority of Iraqi political parties, whether secular, such as the “Communist” party, which was divided over its long history into several parties, or religious parties as the “Islamic Dawa” Parties.
Twenty-four million Iraqis are eligible to vote in the elections, out of a total of 37 million. The winner will face an arduous task of rebuilding the war-ravaged country and battling the rampant corruption that hit its oil revenues. Baghdad says it will need at least $ 100 billion to rebuild homes, trade businesses and infrastructure devastated by the war.
Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies