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Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks

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Congressional research rept.

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Iraqs political system, the result of a U.S.-supported election process, has been increasingly characterized by peaceful competition, as well as by attempts to form cross-sectarian alliances. However, ethnic and factional infighting continues, sometimes involving the questionable use of key levers of power and legal institutions. This infighting--and the belief that holding political may mean the difference between life and death for the various political communities--has prevented agreement to date on a new government that was to be selected following the March 7, 2010, national elections for the Council of Representatives COR, parliament. A new government was expected immediately after the end of the Ramadan period on September 11, but deadlock continued. As of October 4, 2010, after receiving the backing of the faction of Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki may be close to securing the COR votes for another term as Prime Minister. Contributing to the difficulty in reaching agreement has been the close election results and distribution of seats in the COR. With the results certified, the cross-sectarian but Sunni-supported Iraqiyya slate of former Prime Minister Iyad al-Allawi unexpectedly gained a plurality of 91 of the 325 COR seats up for election. Malikis State of Law slate won 89, and a rival Shiite coalition was third with 70, of which about 40 seats are held by those supporting Moqtada Al Sadr. The main Kurdish parties, again allied, won 43 seats, with another 14 seats held by other Kurdish factions. On the basis of his first place showing, Allawi had demanded to be given the first opportunity to put together a majority coalition and form a government. Even as Al Sadr and some other Shiites have now dropped their opposition to Maliki, Allawi continues to oppose Malikis continuation as Prime Minister and is attempting to form a rival grouping along with the Kurds and Shiite figures, such as Adel Abdul Mahdi, who oppose Maliki.

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  • Government and Political Science

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