Iraq’s New Parliament to Hold First Session

Over Two Months After Election, No Government in Sight

Over two months after the March 7 Iraqi election, the new parliament will sit for the first time Monday, though there remains a long road before a new government will actually take power.

The 325-seat parliament will sit with no clear majority, but with a number of rumors of alliances and power sharing deals. The largest bloc, Iraqiya, holds 91 seats but is not expected to have any more than a secondary role in the next government.

Instead it seems likely that the “National Alliance,” a combination of the second place State of Law and third place Iraqi National Alliance, seems set to take most of the power in the next government. Exactly how this will break down to specific positions seems to be a matter of considerable debate, however.

State of Law, which netted 89 seats in the election, is dominated by outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who demands that he be given a second term. The INA, long controlled by the Hakim family, saw its leadership change, as the 70 seat alliance is now dominated by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s followers. They have reportedly expressed disquiet about Maliki holding another term in office, and have demanded the release of large numbers of Sadr supporters from Maliki’s prisons as a condition of support.

At 169 seats, assuming the alliance holds, they would be just 4 seats shy of the majority needed to form a government, and would likely have easy paths to obtaining those seats. There have been reports of friction between the two groups however, particularly over which will get the prime ministership, and the alliance may still fazll apart.

Once the parliament sits, the first order of business will be to elect a new Iraqi President (expected to be a member of the Kurdistan Alliance again) and a parliamentary speaker. It is only then that a bloc will be charged with attempting to form a new government and Iraqiya, with the largest plurality, is supposed to get the first chance. This will likely mean several additional weeks if not months before a new government takes office.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.