Who ran in Iraq's crucial election?

October 10, 2021 - 17:50

TEHRAN - Iraqi voters (of whom 25 million are eligible to vote) have cast their ballots distributed among 83 electoral districts and more than 8,200 polling stations across the county.

For the first time, the country is using biometric electoral cards under the new electronic voting system. However, reports have emerged from some polling stations of problems with voters being turned back because their fingerprints showed an error with the new system. All polling stations closed at 6 pm with no time added as the system was designed to shut down at this time. That could have affected the turnout. 

The demonstrations in 2019 wanted reforms among a host of other demands. At the top of these demands was a higher employment rate among the youth. 

According to statistics by the United Nations, Iraq's population is 40.2 million, 60 percent of whom are under the age of 25. 


According to the new election law, these elections, which were set for the year 2022 (will be held for the first time) with new multiple electoral districts that will be voting for only one candidate at each electoral district. 

This will supposedly limit the dominance of the bigger parties and allow more independent candidates on the political scene.

There are 21 alliances running and more than 3200 candidates contending.  

This time Iraqi expats living outside the country will not be allowed to vote. On October 8, a special vote was held for members of the security forces, the displaced, and the prisoners.

Each electoral district or constituency elects between three to five deputies in proportion to its population.

There are 21 alliances running and more than 3200 candidates contending.  The candidates competed for 329 seats, including 83 seats representing 25 percent of the total for women and nine seats for minorities distributed among Christians, Shabaks, Sabeans, Yazidis, and Faili Kurds.

Representatives of the new Parliament have been elected for a four-year term, and candidates can only run in one electoral district.

So unlike before, when candidates ran as independents or on behalf of a party,  the winner of each constituency will end up in Parliament. Previously the party leader had the power to select whoever he saw fit enough from his party to sit in Parliament, which in essence doesn't mean the lawmaker in Parliament is the one people voted to represent them. 

Familiar and popular political parties still dominate the Iraqi political scene despite the protest movement in the country in October 2019. While the activists who participated in the protests have set up, their political party called the "Tishreen movement" or the October movement in reference to their rallies that brought about early elections. They have fielded a number of candidates in several provinces in the country. 

The Sadrist movement, led by the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has a broad fan base that enabled it to win the most significant number of parliament seats during the 2018 elections. It may be able to strengthen its presence in Parliament this time as well. Many analysts expect the Sadrist movement to do well, given its popularity. The party has publicly said it expects to gain around 100 seats, but some say this could be a slight exaggeration. The party had also made it clear that it expects to get the Prime Minister's post given its popularity and the fact no prime minister has been chosen from the Sadr movement before.

Another popular faction, represented by candidates within the Al-Fateh alliance or Conquest alliance, is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, who also heads the Badr Organization, one of the main factions in the Popular Mobilization Units. Political parties affiliated by the popular mobilization units first arrived in Parliament after the 2018 elections. And having played the biggest role in liberating Iraq from Daesh, Conquest came second in 2018 despite having just formed the alliance on the backdrop of Daesh's defeat in late 2017. Observers also expect the Conquest alliance to do well this time. 

The Haqq party is new to the scene, running for the first time. These are former members of the Hezbollah Brigades (one of the most prominent units from the Popular Mobilization Forces). Their members say they are no longer associated with the Hezbollah brigades and have dropped their weapons, intending to take a political path only. Observers expect them to win no more than ten seats, but these ten seats could play a crucial role, and they will most likely link up with the conquest alliance to form a majority.

The National State Forces Alliance is composed of two familiar faces. The Hikma (wisdom) party Ammar al-Hakeem leader has teamed up with former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Analysts expect this alliance to gain around 30 seats. In 2018, a coalition led by al-Abadi became third, winning 42 seats after he presided over Daesh's defeat. The Hikma party won 19 seats in 2018. Previously they had formed a parliamentary majority with the Sadr movement. 

The state of law coalition is another party familiar to the political landscape led by another former prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, a senior leader in one of Iraq's oldest Shia political parties, Dawa. The state of law coalition won 25 seats in 2018, and observers tell Tehran Times, it is expected to attract something similar this time around. 

The Sunni parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi is leading the Taqaddum, or progress, alliance which comprises several Sunni leaders from the Sunni-majority north and west of Iraq.

Parliament speaker Halbousi's main competitor is Khamis al-Khanjar's coalition which is called Azm. 

The two Kurdish heavyweights, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, run by the Barzani tribe, will compete against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan founded by the late Jalal Talabani. 

Iraq's political system is set up where the Prime Minister is a Shia, the President a Kurd, and the Parliament speaker a Sunni. A system that experts say was set up by the United States following its invasion in 2003 with the aim of division and a design that needs urgent reviewing and revising.

As the results emerged on Monday, no party has gained a majority, so talks will take place between different parties and independents to form the largest parliamentary coalition. This coalition will choose the Prime Minister, who in turn will select his cabinet ministers. 

In previous elections, this process took months to complete, but analysts say this time, the government will be formed quicker, perhaps in a couple of weeks.
 

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