It is perfectly conceivable that Halbusi thought he could make a claim to the seat based on a higher number of personal votes. This has been tried before, but as seen in other cases, the argument is judicially uninteresting. Personal votes are simply not relevant to the law on replacement of deputies. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that several deputies who in practice have stolen their seats since they replaced deputies from other governorates still retain their seats today because they are so well liked by their colleagues that no one has bothered to challenge them (or, that only a minority is interested in this).
This includes National Alliance deputies Muhammad al-Hindawi and Jawad al-Shuhayli, as well as Salim al-Jibburi of Iraqiyya. Note also how the official list of parliament deputies deals inconsistently with this issue: It has seamlessly made Hindawi and Shuhayli deputies of Baghdad (they ran in Dahuk and Karbala), whereas Jibburi is still listed as Diyala representative, meaning Salahaddin has one less seat than the 12 mandated by IHEC in the official seat distribution.
Whatever the reasons may have been, the whole exercise of challenging the membership of Assaf was shown to be futile. Except for the potentially valuable effect of having sectarian fronts break up a little during a time of heightened sectarian polarization – Nujayfi may well lose some Sunni friends and Maliki may gain some as a result of the replacement dispute – these antics and personal squabbles are an affront to Iraqi voters who risked their lives to go to the polls in March 2010.
If it is allowed to go on ad infinitum, it will degenerate into a second election inside the Iraqi parliament where narrow clique squabbles among political elites rather than voter preferences decide. It is to be hoped that petty considerations of this nature will not prevail when the Iraqi parliament now turns to the far more important project of determining changes to the electoral law before the next round of parliamentary elections in 2014.