Having lost the major secularist Iraqiya Party as well as both major Kurdish blocs, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government is now facing calls from his Shi’ite rivals in the Sadrist Trend to prepare for early elections.
The call for early elections will have to wait for a bit, however, as the major parties are expected to hold crisis talks later this week in an attempt to resolve the situation. Barring a breakthrough, Maliki will not have a majority government, and while Iraqiya is said to be in private talks, it seems unlikely they will be able to build a majority of their own.
In a parliamentary system this is supposed to lead to fresh elections, but Maliki’s centralization efforts, along with his efforts to arrest top rivals as “terrorists” have led many to believe that he would simply not allow such a vote to happen, and plans to retain his position regardless of his status in parliament.
A new election might be dramatically transformative to Iraqi politics, particularly coming after the US has withdrawn virtually all of its occupation forces. There is considerable anger against Maliki nationwide, and the Sadrist trend, which shocked everyone with its strong showing in the last vote, might well capitalize on that to become the largest Shi’ite bloc.