No winners as Iraq goes to the polls


Iraq goes to the polls today in an ever worsening security situation to elect the 328 members of the Council of Representatives. Once elected, the Council will elect the Iraqi President and Prime Minister.

There are 21,400,000 eligible voters and they will be choosing from around 9,000 candidates from 107 lists, of which there are 36 coalitions and 71 political entities. The system of voting is open-list proportional representation with the 18 governorates forming the constituencies.

The campaign so far has been violent with many people killed in bombings and suicide attacks and at least six polling stations have been targeted; so far this year more than 2,000 people have been killed. The security situation is so bad in Anbar governorate in the West of the country that there will be no voting especially around the provincial capital Ramadi and nearby Fallujah where the army is battling with rebels.

The security situation may affect turnout, but the lacklustre group of candidates and the divisive nature of the parliament may also put off a lot of voters from voting; so don’t expect a big turnout. Over 50,000 polling stations will be open and voting takes place between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. local time.

The main contenders in the election are:

• Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s mainly Shiite State of Law Coalition which holds 89 of the current 325 seats and consists of 12 political entities.

• Ammar al-Hakim’s Citizen’s Coalition which has 20 political entities and is the major Shiite bloc to challenge the State of Law Coalition.

• The Sadrist Movement (Al Ahrar Bloc) led by Muqtadā al-Sadr has three political entities.

• The National Reform Alliance led by former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari with seven political entities.

• Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi leads the Sunni dominated United for Reform Coalition of 13 political entities.

• The Al-Arabiya Coalition has nine political entities and which is led by Deputy Prime Minister Salih al-Mutlak. Although this is a Sunni bloc the Deputy PM is said to be close to Prime Minister al-Maliki and this could hurt them in the more traditional areas.

• Massoud Barzani’s centrist Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK) which currently has 26 seats is the largest party in the Kurdistan Parliament.

• President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) which has 17 seats in the Council of Representatives and is in third place in the Kurdistan Parliament.

• The Movement for Change (Gorran, and also referred to as Change List), founded by former PUK deputy leader Nawshirwan Mustafa, which has eight seats nationally and is the second largest party in the Kurdistan Parliament.

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