Iraqi Parliament Holds First Post-Election Session, But Fails to Agree on Speaker

Two different blocs claim to hold majorities, can't agree on key posts

For the first time since the May election, Iraq’s parliament held a session. This came after reports that a majority bloc had finally been agreed on, and that this would be the start of forming the next Iraqi government.

It was somewhat less orderly than was hoped, however, with two different blocs both claiming majority. This meant after swearing in the 329 MPs, the two blocs reiterated competing claims for awhile, and ultimately the session ended without a vote for a speaker, the first step.

The primary bloc was the one headed by the parties of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Prime Minister Hayder Abadi, who claimed over the weekend to have 177 seats. Militia leader Hadi Amiri and former PM Nouri al-Maliki not only claimed their own majority, but claimed that enough of the 177 defected that the Sadr bloc no longer could claim one.

By the end of the session it still wasn’t clear who was right, or indeed if either has 166 seats at this point. The current status of many smaller parties is uncertain, but the Kurdistan blocs, with their 43 seats, were located squarely in the opposition in both cases, having made deals with neither.

Theoretically this should just lead to another session and an actual vote, but politics tend to get complicated quickly in Iraq, and in the meantime both sides will be vying for new supporters, or at least to pry away supporters the other side was counting on.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.