Meanwhile the country’s other major group, Iraq’s Kurds, won a total of 55 seats altogether. Although at a regional level the three major Iraqi Kurdish parties have been fiercely competitive, as they have had to form their own regional government after local elections, on a national level they seem to have decided to present a unified front. A recent meeting of the representatives of the three major Iraqi Kurdish parties confirmed that they all want to get rid of al-Maliki too.
All of which means that what comes next will be difficult. Iraqi law states that it is not the party that won the most votes that gets to decide how the next government is formed. The group of political parties that form the largest coalition in Parliament get to do that. After Iraq’s 2010 elections, it took months of discussions and horse trading for the government to be formed. Many believe the same thing will happen again and some pessimists are even betting on over 12 months of an “unofficial” caretaker government.
Additionally negotiations are only going to be made more complex because of the various crises in Iraq at the moment – these include not only ongoing violence in Anbar but also financial and economic problems due to delays in approving the Iraqi national budget. And apart from the Iraqi Kurdish, there is a lot of infighting within the various sectarian-flavoured political groups, which will make it even harder for everyone to agree.
Most significantly, the Shiite Muslim parties are now divided; previously they were all working together. But over the past few years, the leaders of the popular Sadrist movement, represented by the Ahrar bloc in politics, and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, or ISCI, which is represented by the Muwatin bloc, have expressed their dislike of al-Maliki.
Muqtada al-Sadr, the spiritual leader of the Sadrists, has been overt and harsh in his criticism while Amir al-Hakim of the ISCI has been more guarded. Al-Maliki has previously said that al-Sadr is too young and inexperienced in politics.
The problem for al-Maliki though is that his two former allies are close and apparently they both agree that he should not be given another term in office.