Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki did not win the political majority that would have enabled him to form local governments by himself, according to the results of the local elections held in 12 Iraqi provinces. In the coming period, he will be required to engage in a fierce struggle with political blocs, some of which — even Shiite ones — are his opponents.
Preliminary results — leaked two days after the polls closed on Saturday [April 20] — show the country's religious minorities will get 6 out of 378 seats in the 12 provinces. The various dispersed Iraqi lists will get nearly 70 seats, while the Sadrist movement will win close to 50 seats. The State of Law coalition will receive 115 seats, whereas 80 seats will go to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI).
These elections, in which 6,400,777 people participated in 12 provinces, resulted in a new rise of secular and liberal forces — particularly the political alliance led by the Iraqi Communist Party, which won a number of seats in each of the provinces — although they do not constitute a major force in the local councils. Yet, the decreased number of seats for Islamists, and rise of new civil forces could probably reflect a relative shift in the public’s mood.
Last year, the Iraqi parliament amended the provincial electoral law. Iraqi lawmakers, who contributed to the amendment, said that it allows small parties to be represented, based on a specific number of votes required for each seat.
The ISCI, led by young cleric Ammar al-Hakim, saw a relatively good return to most provincial councils. It came second after Maliki with a minor difference, as is the case in Babylon province, where a difference of one seat sent Maliki to first place and Hakim to second.
Surprisingly, the Sadrist movement sustained losses in a number of provinces, particularly in Najaf, the stronghold of Muqtada al-Sadr. In addition, it went down to the third and fourth places in the Shiite provinces, such as Babylon, Wasit and Al-Qadisiyah. A source, who refused to be named, said: “The number of voters for the movement in the Sadr City, in eastern Baghdad, fell compared to the 2009 elections.”
On the activity of political blocs, local observers said that the good work of Ali Douai — the governor of Maysan province — in the province’s areas is behind his victory, where the service level has significantly improved and numerous service facilities have been established.
Over the past three years, local media have focused on Douai, dressed like a trash collector, holding a broom and roaming the streets of the province to clean them up. Moreover, he came to Baghdad three months ago to protest in front of the central government’s headquarters, demanding to increase his poor city funding allocations in order to launch new development projects.
Maliki lost his place at the top of the list of winners in the province of Maysan, which has a huge oil reserve. Ali Douai, who leads the Sadrist bloc in the province, came first.
The State of Law coalition was the first in the capital Baghdad, and the central and southern provinces, except for Najaf where Shiite leader Adnan al-Zurfi. Zurfi who known for being an experienced man who excels in dealing with the opponents and allies, and he has a civil background, despite his good ties with some Islamists.
The result of the forces in Maysan province came as follows: “The Coalition of Liberals (Muqtada al-Sadr movement) [won] nine seats, the State of Law Coalition (Nouri al-Maliki) won eight seats, the Citizen State [received] six seats, the National Partnership [took] one seat and the Dawa Party-Iraq Organization (a group that defected from Maliki) won one seat.
The Gathering of National Emblem won one seat, and finally the Truth and Giving list got one seat.
In the province of Wasit, “the State of Law Coalition got seven seats, the Citizen Coalition (Ammar al-Hakim) received seven seats, the Coalition of Liberals (Muqtada al-Sadr movement) [won] six seats, the Faithful Hands Gathering got two seats, the Social Justice took two seats, the Good and Giving list won one seat, the Unified Iraqiya (Ayad Allawi) won one seat, the Fair State list (Qahtan al-Jubouri, former minister of tourism and ally of the government) won one seat, and the Feyli Brotherliness list (Shiites Kurds) received one seat.
The State of Law Coalition came first in the province of Diwaniyah, and obtained 120,000 votes, securing eight seats. Yet this figure is lower than what Maliki achieved in the 2009 local elections, when he managed to win 11 seats. In Diwaniyah, the Citizen Coalition came in second with 70,000, whereas the Coalition of Liberals was ranked in third place with 50,000 votes.
Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Shiite leader of the ISCI and former vice president of Iraq, said: “Maliki's State of Law Coalition will lose the first place in the four provinces, where it had monopolized the first place.”
Abdul-Mahdi anticipated that Maliki “will be required to establish an alliance with other blocs in all provinces, although the National Reform bloc, led by Ibrahim al-Jaafari (former Shiite prime minister), the Islamic Virtue Party and Badr Organization (a Shiite faction that defected from Amar al-Hakim) have joined his ranks.
The Unified Iraqiya Coalition of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, received a painful blow and did not achieve good results. Allawi’s supporters had options that differed from his allies who preferred to run in the elections with individual lists. That was the case of Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni leader, who's the head of the Mutahidoun, and Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni leader who leads the National Dialogue Front.
Nujaifi swept the country’s Sunni areas, receiving the votes of the Sunni majority Karkh district in Baghdad, and won a good number of seats. Yet, Saleh al-Mutlaq did not achieve good figures.
The Al-Monitor correspondent counted the total number of votes obtained by all Iraqiya factions, which reached, according to the preliminary results leaked on Monday [April, 22], 1.5 million votes. These figures do not represent an average number of all supporters of the Iraqiya, since the elections were not held in its important strongholds of Anbar and Mosul. These two provinces were prevented from the polling, because of a government decision because of the deteriorated security [conditions].
Ali Abel Sadah is a Baghdad-based writer for both Iraqi and Arab media. He has been a managing editor for local newspapers, as well as a political and cultural reporter for over 10 years.
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