The Iraqi Presidential Elections
Q: Why is Iraq’s parliament struggling to elect a president?
A: Iraq has not elected a president due to a widespread boycott of the presidential vote. In Iraq’s political structure, there needs to be at least a two-thirds attendance in order to conduct the election, which is yet to occur during this presidential election cycle. The latest failure to elect the President took place on March 30.
Q: Who is boycotting the elections?
A: The presidential election has been boycotted at different times by both major Shia parties in Iraq. The first vote, scheduled for February 6, was boycotted by Muqtada al-Sadr, an Iraqi Shia politician, and those loyal to him. The second and third votes were boycotted by members of the Coordination Framework, another strong Shia coalition with strong ties to Tehran, Iran.
Q: Why did al-Sadr boycott the first vote and how did he come to power?
A: After winning parliamentary majority and preparing for the election, al-Sadr and his party originally boycotted due to the Iraqi supreme court suspending the candidate al-Sadr was supporting, Hoshyar Zebari. When Zebari was eventually disqualified indefinitely, al-Sadr shifted his support away from Zebari and stopped boycotting the elections.
Al-Sadr came to power in the Parliamentary election in October 2021, winning a plurality of votes.
Q: Why are members of the Coordination Framework boycotting the elections?
A: Members of the Coordination Framework (CF) are boycotting the elections due to al-Sadr’s intent to form a majority government and therefore keep the CF out of the government. The Coordination Framework is an Iran-associated Shia coalition. For example, one of the parties that comprise the CF, the Fatah Alliance, is the political facet of the former Shia paramilitary group Hashd al-Shaabi, which was backed by Iran.
Because of the Coordination Framework’s connections to Iran, al-Sadr is attempting to keep them out of the new government, therefore leading members of the CF to boycott the Presidential election.
Q: What is a majority government?
A: A majority government is created when one party or group of parties holds an absolute majority of seats in the legislature. In the case of Iraq, al-Sadr’s Shia party won 73 seats, the most out of any party, out of 329 possible seats. This results in plurality, not a majority. Thus, al-Sadr has aligned his party with other parties in order to form a majority government that would be the first of its kind.
Q: How would al-Sadr’s majority government be different from traditional Iraqi coalitions?
A: Traditionally, the Iraqi government has been a coalition government, dominated by power-sharing among parties. This has led to a very fractious and ineffective government, which the people of Iraq have become disillusioned with. Al-Sadr’s majority government would attempt to end the pervasive political gridlock that has afflicted Iraq for decades by establishing a decisive purely Iraqi government, free from outside influence.