By Daoud al-Ali.
The results of Iraq’s provincial elections are in – and they are far from conclusive. While the ruling State of Law bloc still leads, it’s clearly not as popular as it was. And various alliances are being built to challenge it further.
The initial results of Iraq’s recent provincial elections were announced by the country’s Independent High Electoral Commission or IHEC, the body responsible for conducting and overseeing the elections, on May 4.
And while the actual voting involved a fairly lacklustre polling day it seems the results may make for more interesting politics as major parties must seek coalition partners for local government.
The results have yet to be finalized as various appeals have yet to be heard. But it seems clear that there will some changes ahead in provincial government. Provincial authorities are influential in their own areas, having some control over security, economic development – and thereby, jobs – and how federal funds are used.
The election results indicate a shift in the balance of power in Iraqi politics, local political analyst, Ihsan al-Shammari, a lecturer at Baghdad University, told NIQASH. Al-Shammari thought that the provincial elections could also be seen as an indicator of how the country will vote in the next federal elections, due in 2014. “In these elections, the battles to build coalitions will be fiercer than the electoral campaigns," he said.
While the coalition led by Iraq’s current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki still retained its lead in provincial government in seven of the 12 states where elections were held, it also lost a lot: about a third of the seats it had had after the 2009 provincial elections. All up, al-Maliki’s State of Law bloc got 97 seats in provincial government but it didn’t achieve an absolute majority in any one province. A lot of those losses came from the Prime Minister’s own Dawa party. And the losses came despite al-Maliki’s alliances with various influential Shiite Muslim parties such as the Badr organization.