On the ground, it is unlikely that the Sadr bloc will be defeated in the next elections. It is popularly stable in the Shiite cities and holds 40 parliamentary seats. It is also difficult to break the Sunni bloc that for months has been supporting the demonstrations opposing Maliki’s policies. That bloc is represented today by the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and the Iraqi List bloc headed by Ayad Allawi. After accounting for those who withdrew from that bloc, its size now stands at 70 seats. It would also be very difficult for Maliki to beat Kurdistan region leader Massoud Barzani or break his alliance with other Kurdish parties.
Trying to form a “majority government” is normally acceptable. In the end, that is the point of holding elections. But it is unwise to talk about forming a “majority government” while ignoring the divisions caused by ten years of political disarray and the presence of a vague constitution, delayed and disputed laws, sectarian polarization, and regional divisions that may lead to civil war.
Iraq is still stuck in a long transitional phase. It will not end by forming a “majority government” but rather by reaching a broad social and political agreement that clarifies the mechanism of governance, the state’s identity, how wealth is distributed, the prerogatives of those in power and the rights of the citizens.
A “majority government” is not just an electoral slogan by Maliki. It is a political approach that causes more internal divisions, and those divisions will determine Iraq’s struggle in the coming months.
Mushreq Abbas is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse. An author and journalist who has worked in the media for 15 years, he holds a degree in political science from Baghdad University. Besides writing studies and articles that covered Iraqi crises and publishing in the local, regional and foreign media, Abbas has worked since 2003 in the Iraqi media sector and co-founded media companies. He also produced a number of documentaries for different media and has managed Al-Hayat’s office in Iraq since 2005.