For instance, Maliki could seek to move as quickly as possible, working with the Kurds to ratify parliamentary speakers and re-appoint President Jalal Talabani. There is certainly a public appetite for forward movement and some international pressure, though this counts for much less in today’s Iraq. On the other hand, there are lots of reasons why Maliki might want to move at a more deliberate pace. If Talabani is re-appointed, Maliki’s bloc loses one additional piece of leverage over the Kurds or alternative bidders for the presidency. Worse yet, due to the lack of constitutional or legal clarity over the definition of the largest coalition (kutla), the president has a great deal of discretionary power for this one fleeting moment of the Iraqi political cycle: Maliki would have to wonder whether Talabani could be relied upon to select the prime ministerial candidate according to Maliki’s instructions.
Then there is the ultimate political rollercoaster – the interregnum of up to thirty days between the nomination of a designate prime minister and the parliamentary vote to ratify the premier. This period could be a moment of high drama and grave danger for the head of the largest bloc. His adversaries could be counted upon to reveal their juiciest counter-offers in an effort to collapse the effort at government formation and earn for themselves the next chance. The candidate’s allies could likewise use this period to extract the maximum concessions from the designate prime minister, possibly engaging in brinksmanship until the final days or even hours before the deadline. Such circumstances will likely bring out the most dangerous and stubborn tendencies in Kurdish leaders such as the KRG president Masoud Barzani. The risk of miscalculation and last-minute defections would be very high. It is quite possible that the first attempt to form a government could fail.