Iraqi Cleric Sadr Struggles With Forming Coalition Government

Some factions balk at joining if Amiri's faction is included

Influential Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s political bloc may have won a plurality of 54 seats in the May 12 parliamentary vote, but they are still a long way from forming a viable coalition that commands a majority of the 329 seat parliament.

Sadr’s initial plan was to form a coalition with Ammar al-Hakim and Ayad Allawi. Those two, however, only mustered a total of 40 seats between them, leaving Sadr to try to come up with 71 more seats for even the slimmest majority.

Not that Sadr has been idle. Last week, he met with Hadi al-Amiri, announcing a political alliance. Amiri, a top militia leader, has a bloc with 47 seats that he can bring on board. That wouldn’t get them to a majority either, and to make matters more complicated, some of the other factions are objecting to Amiri’s involvement, threatening to join the opposition.

Some Kurdish factions are suggesting openness to joining a Sadr-Amiri alliance, which opens up another possible avenue, but again doesn’t guarantee a majority can be cobbled together any time soon.

This has been a recurring theme in Iraqi elections, where forming a majority government is often a long, drawn-out struggle. This often requires making a lot of promises of power-sharing among the parties to keep them all on board.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.