The hope was that last weekend’s privately organized referendum, hastily assembled by Moqtada al-Sadr, would give the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) a course of action in forming a coalition government with Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc or Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law bloc. This does not appear to have been the case, however.
With over 1.4 million Iraqis voting in the referendum neither former PM Allawi or current PM Maliki got much support, and the largest number of votes went to an INA member, the other former PM Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who got 24 percent of the votes according to Sadr bloc spokesman Salah al-Obeidi.
Results of the Sadr Bloc Referendum (italics indicates write-in candidate)
Ibramhim al-Jaafari (INA) – 24%
Jaffar Mohammad al-Sadr (State of Law) – 23%
Qusay al-Suhail (INA) – 17%
Nouri al-Maliki (State of Law) – 10%
Ayad Allawi (Iraqiya) – 9%
Baha Araji (INA) – 5%
Ahmed Chalabi (INA) – 3%
Adel Abdulmahdi (INA) – 2%
Rafia al-Issawi (Iraqiya) – 2%
Total other write-ins – less than 5%
Jaafari served as the Prime Minister of Iraq in between Allawi and Maliki. A former leader in Maliki’s Dawa Party, Jaafari left to form his own list after a falling out, though he managed to secure only one seat in the March vote (his own).
The success of write-in candidates, in particular the massive number of votes for Qusay al-Suhail, suggests that many of the voters were not particularly satisfied with the five candidates included on the ballot. Suhail was the top member of the Sadrist election list, and the number two list member, Baha Araji, also scored well.
The fact that two write-in members of Sadr’s list got a combined 22% also suggests that the voting was heavily among Sadr supporters, unsurprising as the voting began after Friday prayers at tents set up mainly near mosques loyal to the cleric.
But the results are not particularly helpful to Sadr, who had sought some sort of consensus on who the next prime minister should be. Officials in the party suggested they would support whoever got 51% of the vote, but it remains to be seen if they will attempt to organize a run-off to settle the difference, or what good that might even do considering neither Maliki nor Allawi was in the top three.