The question being raised amid all these controversies is: how can a majority government be formed in a religiously and ethnically divided country such as Iraq?
The Iraqi constitution says that the Iraqi president is elected by a two-thirds parliamentary majority, or 216 out of 325 votes, and the president appoints a prime minister on condition that the latter is supported by 163 deputies. So Maliki forming a majority government seems beyond even the most optimistic readings.
Previous elections have revealed the people’s choices and Maliki obtaining a political majority requires three things:
One, Maliki should reduce the size rival Shiite parties, such as those headed by Muqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim, and then persuade them to join his cabinet after they have given large concessions.
Two, Maliki needs to either win over the Sunnis and get them to vote for him, or persuade Sunni forces that win 40 seats in the next elections to join his cabinet.
Three, Maliki needs to either persuade the Kurds to join his Cabinet or split the Kurds and win over at least 25 Kurdish deputies.
In politics, there are no absolutes. It is possible that Maliki would achieve the above requirements. But if that happens, it will be no more than a reproduction of the “political partnership” government — about which Maliki now complains — with the exception that it would exclude the forces and figures deemed disruptive for the government. Those forces and figures are today represented by the Arbil-Najaf alliance, Sadr, and Kurdish and Sunni leaders.