Some smaller lists are interesting, in particular the Iraq coalition (262) which stands out for competing in Sunni and Shiite areas alike. In Baghdad the list is topped by former minister from the CPA period Mahdi al-Hafez and is also featuring former Fadila figure Nadim al-Jabiri. In Salahaddin, they have Qutayba al-Jibburi as no. 2, a former Iraqiyya MP who split from them in early 2012 after the controversy ove the Hashemi affair.
This list is perhaps the most credible cross-sectarian alternative that has emerged in the ashes of Iraqiyya (perhaps in addition to list 209 which is close to the old communists: It includes some prominent current provincial council members such as Ismail Ghazi, the top candidate in Basra). By way of contrast, other Iraqiyya breakaway entities are not running across the country. A case in point is White (288) which is not running in Sunni areas north of Baghdad.
Other new parties are also often geographically limited. In Basra, the former Sadrist Uday Awwad is topping his own list (270). There is also a women-only list with 5 candidates (281) and federalist Wail Abd al-Latif is trying his luck with at the head of yet another new party (228). Former Maliki ally Shirwan al-Waili has his own list (284) and he is himself its top candidate in Dhi Qar.
Generally speaking, fascinatingly – and despite the general sectarian polarization regionally – issues like de-Baathification have been less prominent in Iraq this year than ahead of the last general elections in 2010. Instead, the dispute of the 2014 budget (and the failure of parliament to pass it) has been a main background factor.
The budget is at least a political issue that is connected to some important ideological differences regarding interpretations of federalism. Clear battle lines between the Maliki government and the Kurdish regional government aside, the process remains somewhat opaque though: Maliki has reportedly this week complained to the federal supreme court about parliament’s procrastination over the budget passage.
In election times, would it not be more logical to ensure wider parliamentarian backing for the budget? Surely that is doubly relevant these days, when Maliki allies already talk about forming a “political majority” government after the elections. Their efforts over the next few weeks will decide whether such a prospect is realistic at all.